I recently watched a documentary called HEAL on Netflix that was recommended by my dear friend Jen. There is nothing pretentious about our friendship, but we do call one another “Darling Darling” as well as many other “terms of endearment” that shouldn’t be repeated here. I was drawn to one woman’s story in particular. She had similar ideas on how to approach her healing. Her diagnosis was a lot more severe than mine, so a very different journey. She made a deep impression on me. She referred to chemotherapy as “Chemosabe” which I found hysterical. Thanks Jen for the recommendation.
Kimosabe has a few meanings according to Wikipedia. Of course a certain generation would remember Kimosabe from the TV series The Lone Ranger, but the one I liked is “trusty scout” or even better, “faithful friend.”
On Thursday after I’d been hooked up to the cold cap machine which had already been running for half an hour, the bag of chemo was placed in my lap. Obviously this happens in order for you to verify that the information on the label is in fact yours and not the mixture meant for the lovely gentleman in the corner who is sitting with his wife awaiting the same fate. I held the bag in my hands and spontaneously said “hello beautiful friend.” How interesting I thought. THAT’S what came to mind? This journey is an ongoing awakening and although I am very much in tune with myself, my reactions sometimes surprise me. I watched the nurse hook the bag up and connect it to the Picc line which is permanently in my left arm till my final treatment in May.
Sitting with me on Thursday and taking it all in, was my beautiful friend Sivan. Sivi, as I like to call her, drops her life and responsibilities as a wife, mother and writer (only one of her many, many talents) to be with me. She was my partner in crime for the first surgery in October which I’ll write about separately at some point, then met me at the hospital after my second surgery in December, to help get me home. She was with me on the day that I finally agreed to have chemo and still begs for more of my attention, as she has offered her support in the coming months when needed. She is often times more of a patient than I am, but is the best distraction and support and we generally laugh our way through it all.
People ask how the cold cap feels. My reply….cold!!! Sivs felt the little helmet I was wearing on my head and said, “Shew Taz, that feels cold.” IT IS COLD, but I know how to channel my inner Eskimo.
Chemosabe lasts for 1 hour and the cold cap is on for a total of 2 and a half hours, so let’s hope my weekly brain freeze is worth it. The time goes surprisingly fast and of course there is quite a bit happening around you so there’s no time to dwell on anything. Each nurse is dealing with a different patient and set of circumstances and they truly are the angels in the Infusion Suite. That’s where treatments take place, the Infusion Suite. Sounds like something at a Health Spa. Well, it doesn’t remotely feel like what you’d expect it to feel. It’s quiet, calm and peaceful and everyone there has a distant respect for what is taking place.
Sivs and I chatted and passed the time together and then I was told I could go. She asked how I was feeling. I replied, slightly cloudy and a little tired, but nothing to be concerned about. I took the helmet off, she laughed at how I looked and then after I pounced on her, we packed up to go home. Most of you who know me would believe that I actually did pounce on her..I digress.
The rest of our afternoon and evening was pretty relaxed, besides the fact that Sivan’s back went into spasm and I had to massage it back to health. Massaging oil into someones back with a mastectomy on the right and a picc line on the left, wasn’t demanding at all. What are friends for in these situations, but to use and abuse..cancer or no cancer 🙂
The next day, we had to report back for my first Herceptin injection which lasted about 15 minutes and then we had to endure a 6 hour wait, so I could be monitored in case I had a reaction. Herceptin injections take place every 3 weeks for a year and are quite vital for my healing.
“In case you have a reaction” is a phrase that you get used to after a while. It’s in all the information pamphlets they give you and is common dialogue with doctors and nurses. It’s important to take it seriously, but is not where I choose to place my attention. I won’t go in to all the possible side effects of treatment, but there are side effects for chemotherapy and for Herceptin and whatever comes, I’ll take it a day at a time.
My attitude towards the possible side effects was confirmed by two wonderful women who are both healers in the world of cancer. They said, “If you look for things, you find them.” How true this is in life. “I ain’t lookin for no side effects, but I’m well aware of what they may be.”
We passed the 6 hours at the hospital by attempting to find inspiration to write, but it didn’t come. Sivan cleaned her computer beautifully while hunched over the keys. We took turns to go for a walk. I popped back to the nurses for check-ups every half an hour or so. Eventually we both fell asleep on the Costa couches with nothing more to say. If anyone was expecting a Friday afternoon drama, it didn’t come. I asked the nurses if it was possible that I may have no reaction at all. Well, anything is possible they said, but they have to make sure in case.
We packed up and managed a slow walk back to the bus stop, both utterly exhausted. Thank you my Sivs!! Hope the massage did the trick 🙂
First treatment is done. It hardly felt like anything major really. It helps to have someone close to pass the time with. Sivs and I always unpack life and discuss the deep and the trivial, but mostly we laugh and talk nonsense. Sometimes I’m the patient and sometimes she is, but she is always my “faithful friend.”
“So, Chemosabe, we’ve been introduced and we’ll meet every Thursday and we’ll find our way through this together.” It’s a strange thing, the unknown, particularly when you don’t know what may take hold of you with each passing hour in a day, but that’s what I’ve signed up for and essentially what we all sign up for.