A Day in the Life of Chemo

She gave me a great suggestion for a Christmas gift for my children and shared stories of her neighborhood kids gathering around to play with that toy. When she left the room, she wished me a Merry Christmas and hugged me–not one of those quick hugs, but a bear hug telling me she cares. What a gift!

My oncologist is amazing.

We worked through my symptoms from chemo last time and she worked on dosing for pain medication for me to take after treatments. She talked through precautions of upcoming drugs they added yesterday and told me to call her anytime.

Brief update: my white blood cell counts are dropping faster than she had hoped. They may be changing my dosing or they may be moving me to every other week treatments rather than weekly. So please pray for my counts to rebound.

I was at the cancer center seven hours yesterday for my infusion, and it could have been an exhausting day. Well, actually it was a very exhausting day. But there were parts of it that were encouraging and uplifting.

Y’all, I am so blessed to be where I am and receive the care that I receive. Nurses stopped by constantly to check on me, on my kids–I can’t tell you how many asked how my kids were doing–to chat with me about life. One nurse, new to the chemo side of things, goes to our church, and while I don’t know him well, he sat down to talk with me for a few minutes and catch up on the very hard of both our lives. What a gift.

Another nurse stopped by to catch up on a mutual friend that we have… to see how she is doing since her father’s untimely death. We stood with tears in our eyes and talked through grief together. What a gift.

The woman next to me had an allergic reaction. I’ve never seen that room move so fast. Within seconds there were five nurses and the staff pharmacist around her, giving her meds through her IV. One nurse was there just to hold her hand and calm her down. Within moments she was fine and drinking her water and watching TV again. It was one more reassurance that this place is where I want to be. What a gift.

After things were calm, the Cancer Center Pharmacist stopped by my chair. He recognized me but couldn’t figure out why, because he came after my chemo seven years ago. We realized that we had met in the room of Dave, a man in our congregation who has leukemia. I had been visiting him in the hospital and John stopped by to talk through drug changes with him. Then he left and came back a few minutes later with a tug in his heart to pray for Dave, so we all prayed together. What a gift!

John stayed and talked through my history with me and updated me on my chemo drugs–what side effects are most common with the new ones, what to do should I have those side effects, what to watch for, and he ended with, “My office is right there. Should you ever need anything, let the nurses know and I will be out here as soon as I can.” What a gift.

They infused my newest drug over an hour, then I had to wait an hour to make sure I didn’t react. Then they infused my second drug over an hour and I had to wait another hour. Then they infused the drug I’ve been receiving the past two treatments, let my IV flush for 1/2 hour and I was able to go home. It was a long time sitting in that chair (this doesn’t include time for pre-meds and hooking me up to the IV), but the chairs are heated and massage–a little bit of a gift in the needles and poison.

My chemo buddy was a sweet presence, asking good questions and trying to understand it all, giving me moments to sleep, running out for Cinnamon Bear for lunch so I didn’t have to eat meatball soup and peanut butter and jelly from the center, and encouraging the patients around her with her smiles and help. What a gift!

When my night finally ended, as I was preparing to go, I ran into my favorite nurse. She was the one who gave me my very first chemo seven years ago. She gave me a long, long hug and told me to not think about them once this next wee–that they wouldn’t be offended. She said to enjoy my Christmas with my babies and soak it all in, and we teared up and hugged again, and I was on my way. What a gift!

This is hard, y’all. I’m not going to lie. This is so very, very hard. I hate going in there every week. I hate that someone else controls my schedule. I hate waking on chemo mornings and thinking, “I’m going to go get poison in my veins to save my life.” I hate this uncertainty. I hate not having a date that I’m “done” with chemo, that it’s, “See you next week” until who knows when. I hate coming home and feeling bad and not being with my loves or sleeping through time with them. I hate how overwhelmed Brian is, that he is mom and dad several nights, that he’s feeding them and cleaning up dishes and getting them to bed. And this, this is only a touch of the hard. Just a touch.

But y’all, I love that God gives me so much of Himself in the hard. I love that I can go each week to a place where I am known, where I feel safe, where I am so well-cared for. I love that God showers me with gifts all through the hard to show me He is with me, He is in control–He always has been. And I love that I get this week to celebrate with my loves. It may not look like other years (we’ve missed a lot of Christmas prep), but we are together. What a gift.

3 responses to “A Day in the Life of Chemo”

  1. Good morning Angie,
    Life is hard, and your life is exceptionally hard!
    Praying that even through your tears of pain, fear and uncertainty you’ll see the many blessings along the way. It’s very apparent you do…so many “gifts” you received ~ just in one day.
    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas as we celebrate the greatest gift of all… The gift of Jesus.

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  2. YOU (and I don’t say this lightly or flippantly) are a gift. Praying for so much for you and your family…peace, perseverance, healing, hope, strength, sleep, but most of all what God is already doing…giving you much of Himself. I love you. Merry Christmas!

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  3. I wonder what to give you. I read this entry and then FELT so very “generous” toward you. Like I wanted to GIVE you something. If I could give you health, I would give you that right off. Prayer is something I already give in your direction. So what can I give in response to this desire to give you something? What gift? To someone I have not met and who I am related to in the family Jesus established for us.
    I wondered.
    And what comes to mind, and is perhaps small in comparison to what I wish I could afford, is APPRECIATION FOR LIFE and health and family. You deepen in me the desire to savor what is mine and to hold it lightly and closely. No grip. Not in that possessive way that panic can muster. Just holding it and noticing it. I know from reading your story the value of appreciating what is given to us. And so I do, today. In honor of you. I treasure what is mine from Him. All of it.
    Thank you for gifting me with the inspiration to Live Life and Live Loved by God. You and yours are precious to Him. Our Heavenly Father loves you and you remind me today that is also true for me and mine.
    What a gift!

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