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July 18, 2011: Chemo Part I

As soon as we get home today, I know that we will get a million phone calls asking how chemo went. So I figured I might as well explain. The fact that I am writing at 2:30 in the afternoon rather than at 2:30 in the morning might also be a good thing.

Here’s how chemo day works. When we got here, Stella had a blood test that is required prior to chemo. A technician took some blood and then told us that it will be much faster if we take the bag of blood to the lab ourselves rather than wait for someone to do it. So there we were going between the 7th floor (oncology) and the fourth (diagnostics) with a bag of blood.

Of course Stella does not take elevators so we took the stairs.

While waiting for the chemo, patients can get reflexology and massages in the relaxation room. While Stella initially said that she didn’t need “any of that (sissy) stuff,” she relented and went for a little foot massage. Although I think she did it just to make the volunteer happy. (By the way, they did NOT offer me any foot massages, and I was disappointed because I really wanted to show off my infamous runner’s toes.)

A volunteer also came by to ask if any of us wanted something to eat or drink. Now I have to say, there are some special people whose face just broadcasts cheerfulness. The volunteer was such a person. It must be tough spending your day in a room full of cancer patients, but this woman kept smiling. I like that.

The next step was the IV and then the bags of chemo. Stella has three separate drugs, two of which are administered through the IV, one after the other. While taking chemo, we sat in a medium sized room with about a dozen other patients all sitting on reclining chairs. There was room enough for me to hang out with her (although my chair was not nearly as nice.) Then friends came by and we took turns and made jokes about the funny colored liquid that was running from the bags into her body.

To tell you the truth, the day is pretty boring. Thankfully they have wireless here and so after requesting jokes on Facebook, we hung out laughing at some and snickering at others. (Today’s winner is Shellie Ben David, just don’t ask her how the fight started…)

We also met with a friend who had been looking into alternative treatments for us. Don’t worry — we will do nothing without the full blessing of our doctor. I think the funniest suggestion was the coffee enema (really gives “cafe afuch” — upside down coffee —  a new meaning.)

The rest of the day, we hung out while the chemo dripped into her arm. Her hair did not fall out, she did not turn blue, and except for some localized pain where the stuff went in, the Stella that came out of chemo was the same Stella that when in (minus a bunch of cancer I hope.)

Our plan tonight is to go to a friend’s for a barbecue, and Stella has told me that around dawn tomorrow, she and the dog will be taking their regular walk. I will skip the morning run since it is a fast day, although I may do a middle of the night jog seeing as I will have nothing left to write at two in the morning.

I know how concerned everyone is, but I have to say, I think we are o.k.

I think so because we realize that there is one thing that is even more powerful than the chemo drugs.

It is one word that I finally understand in its full meaning.

That word is… “hope.”

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