Infusing Hope

When I arrived for my first chemotherapy treatment, my pulse was 121. It probably went higher as I waited for my doctor to review my bloodwork. Soon, I was heading upstairs to the infusion suite. I walked into a room where I saw maybe 25 seafoam green reclining chairs with IV poles standing silently by, waiting for their next patient. A few of the chairs were taken.

I took a seat in the corner. My husband took the guest chair next to it. A nurse came by explaining that she would flush my port first and then we would get started. She explained the layout of the suite. The refrigerator was around the corner to the left, the microwave was for anyone, there was coffee and they also provided snacks in a basket on the counter. Once I was hooked up, I was free to wander around.

“Just don’t leave” she added with a smile. I can always appreciate a good sense of humor.

To help prevent an allergic reaction to the drugs, I had taken a steroid the night before. Then, they gave me a second dose. It made my mouth dry and I began to drink a lot of water. Soon, I was trying to navigate my way to the restroom with an IV pole and its accompanying tubes rolling around beside me. I eventually got the hang of it, maneuvering it around me like a dance partner.

They started with several layers of anti-nausea medicine and then I started on Taxol, the first of two powerful anti-cancer drugs. Dripping slowly from the bag hooked at the top of the pole and making its way through the tubing at a programmed rate, the drug took three long hours. Then, I had Carboplatin for another hour. They are so strong that they cannot be infused at the same time.

My diagnosis was endometrial cancer. They had performed a full hysterectomy only six weeks prior, and at that time, my surgeon classified it as a stage 3/grade 3 cancer.

As I waited, I watched healthy women arrive and sit down next to good friends. They were stopping by to keep them company, wanting to keep their spirits up. I looked at the patients themselves. Some had hair, some did not. Some slept and some looked quietly withdrawn. A few faces were turned towards the television, but I’m not sure they were listening. One young woman gave me a small smile when she could see that it was my first time. I felt a sudden connection with her.

“I am with them now” I thought.

I listened to the electronics on the IV poles beep steadily; mine included. These alerts were either triggered by an air bubble, a malfunction, or it simply indicated that the bag was empty. A nurse would walk over, flip a switch, hit a button and either the drip resumed or they hung the next bag, waiting off to the side. Before this morning, I had known nothing about oncology nurses and now they are my heroes.

I hear a final, welcome beep and Diane disconnects me and helps me get up and my husband helps me outside. It’s January so it’s getting dark as we head to the car. I’m feeling exhausted, but I feel something else; something good.  I got through my first chemo treatment.  I have a sense of what that means now. And I am reassured that I can do it.


10 thoughts on “Infusing Hope

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Melanie. I know you don’t know me from a hole in the wall, but I admire your courage. You are looking cancer right in the eye and saying, “Take a seat—I’ve got s*** to do!” I’m so glad that you have your husband for support. I’m sure you don’t feel lucky, given your circumstances, but imagine those who try to take on this challenge alone.

    The leader of my writing critique group has just undergone several radiation treatments for skin cancer. On top of that, he has Parkinson’s, and his publishing business has gone into bankruptcy. I’ve only known him for a year, but he is one of the nicest people in the world. He’s fighting too because he wants to have the joys of reading, writing, and spending time with his lovely wife.

    I love the end of your piece, “And that’s the best feeling I’ve had in a while.” I’ll be smiling for you for the rest of the day. The best of luck and keep fighting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, yes Pete. I am telling it to “take a seat, I’ve got sh**t to do!” That’s exactly what I’m doing. Love that. I actually know someone, a friend of a friend, who did go through it alone. I was literally thinking of her yesterday. I deeply admire her strength. And she’s at 4 or 5 years now post-treatment. She did it. I am very lucky I have a spectacular support system. I am sorry for your fellow writing friend! That’s a lot to bear at once. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad I brought a smile – have a wonderful day Pete. 🙂

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  2. I’m heartbroken for you having to go through this, but you’ve got this! The power of positive thinking is an amazingly powerful healer! Love you, Mel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Beth. ❤ My super power is being optimistic (😊) so I 100% feel that I’ve got this too. And I’ve started. It’s a good feeling.

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  3. Such a BRAVE post Melanie. I know you’re going to fight this cancer with courage, perseverance and knowing you- a lot of humor. There’s a reason we became “new” friends these past couple of years but I must confess that I am gaining the most benefits. Watching this new journey you’re on is both admirable and humbling for me. You’re going to KICK THIS CANCER IN THE A**!

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    1. Yes! I refuse anything less than total annihilation. 🙂 I’m pretty stubborn. Thank you so much for your kind words. And are you kidding me? We’ll have to have a discussion about who’s helping who in the near future. Thanks Pam.

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    1. Thank you so much Linda. I loved your comment. I really do feel that way. I’ll do whatever is needed to get my life back, And I’m pretty confident I can. 🙂

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  4. Melanie, I love the next to last paragraph. As I get ready for my 2nd treatment this Friday, I find myself looking forward to all of it. I want the Taxol and Carboplatin to find every cancer cell and I picture my blood vessels dilating to welcome and ease the passage of these medicines, these first responders, my heroes. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. Gail

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail. I appreciate your thoughts and your time reading about my experience. I know I did the exact same thing so I could learn about treatment details from the people going through them and it was incredibly helpful. I am glad that you are writing and sharing too. We learn from each other. I’d be remiss if I didn’t clarify that the words you share in your comment are wonderfully descriptive and positive, but they aren’t mine. 🙂 I would have loved writing them though! I will follow your journey and hope for the very best outcome for you.

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