I have so many thoughts and feelings running through me...some I feel that I can articulate, others I'm not so sure. If this post doesn't make sense, I can officially blame it on chemo brain
I was not prepared to be led into the large room lined with recliner chairs whose occupants were obviously at difference stages of treatment. As I looked around the room, my eyes searching for the empty chair that would be mine, I froze. I was immediately overcome with the realization of where this next leg of my journey would lead me. I truly could not breathe and for the first time in my life, I couldn't move or say a word. All I wanted to do was run. As I searched the faces of the other patients, my first thought was "I'm not giving those flower pins out, I don't want to connect at all...I just want to hide." That's honesty. Truly, I just wanted to slink into my chair and avoid any eye contact. I did not want to see myself in their eyes. I felt like I was moving in slow motion as they led me back to the overflow where I would end up receiving my treatment. As I sat down in my recliner, I was overwhelmed with all the emotions that had just struck me. I cried for the sadness of that open room and the fear that hit me. And my sweet sister Amy simply held my hand until my tears turned to the calmness that always follows an unexpected storm. This was truly an unexpected storm. I ended up in a small room with four other patients who finished their chemo long before my final bag finished draining. I was positioned in front of the doorway and could see the comings and goings of the big room that had initially terrified me. Soon, I saw little ones bringing a flower to someone in that room. I saw frail, elderly men pushing the IV stand of their wives as they helped them into the restroom. I saw daughters kissing the frail cheeks of their mother. I became the recipient of knowing smiles of kindness as individuals finished their treatment and left. I felt my own heart returning as the understanding and expressions of love around me replaced that initial shock of sadness and fear. After that, the nodding heads of those flower pins shoved deep into my bag reminded me of who I am and found their way to the hands and hearts of those around me. Lesson learned..gratitude stills a quivering heart.
The rest of the day was long and uneventful as I napped, crocheted, laughed, ate chips (ugh) and watched the clock. Katie joined me while her children attended school and I felt so proud of hear as I realized how much she had to juggle to be there. The process was not what I expected. There were four drugs to counteract the side effects of chemo that were given first. Each took about 15 minutes. Then the bag of saline which took half an hour followed by the 3 chemo drugs. Two of them took about 40 minutes each with the final drug which is the experimental drug taking 90 minutes to drain. When it was all said and done, I was there from 11:15 am until 5:00 pm. CraZy as it may seem, I craved chips and salsa the whole day so on the way home, we made a quick stop at El Matador and hurried home to consume them...which I did! (Of course as I write this the thought of it makes me want to throw up!)
The last few days have been hard-for the obvious reasons. I am tired beyond reason, my body aches in unfamiliar ways, my mouth has a metal taste, and the uncertainty of what the chemo is doing to my body is nerve-wracking. The image that greets me in the mirror seems unfamiliar and does not reflect the femininity that I have worked so hard to maintain. My life feels uncertain right now and I find myself daily drawing upon the skills I try to teach the courageous people I work with professionally. I have a new respect and appreciation for each of them and they have become my inspiration. The teacher has become the student.
I have to be honest and say that the hardest part for me is knowing the impact that my cancer is having upon those I love. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend; a grandmother. With each of those roles comes a deep and committed love...the kind that allows you to hurt when they do. My children are strong and they became strong by many of the hard journeys they have had to travel with me. They are committed, tender, loyal and resilient-all traits that come from suffering for and in behalf of someone else. As each experience ended in disappointment or each journey marked by a false start, their hearts have ached for me. In spite of it, they have continued to strive to live selfless lives of service and goodness towards others. The challenges I have been called upon to bear have caused them to question and doubt their faith and wonder.. why?. It is a sadness that has lulled me to sleep on many a sleepless night. Experience has taught me that it is these hard experiences in life that ultimately direct us and guide us towards our greatest blessings. The hard experiences my children have with me are defining the depth of their character and I know that with all my heart. Still, a mother cannot help but ache for the heartaches of her children. I know the tears behind the words of postive encouragement. I know the sadness they feel when they look at me in this weakened state. I feel their private moments as they try to make sense of it all. And even as my tears cloud my ability to write this, I know that this is part of our earthly journey and that the tears we shed as a family will one day be the cement that binds us together eternally. So with that said..I have to know that they will be okay. Still, it makes me sad sometimes.
Tomorrow is mine and Angie's birthday...a day we start looking forward to as soon as the last Christmas gift is opened. This year, neither one of us has even thought about it much less looked forward to it. Somehow, it feels irrelevant in the big scheme of things right now. It just kind of slipped up on us. I realized tonight that it is important because the 26th of January is the day Angie blessed my life with her birth. Angie is important to me..as are all my children-Chad, Katie, Mandi, Mitch, and Amy. They are the breath that strengthens my own. They are more love than I can hold in my arms, warm cookies, a clean house, giggles in the night, music to soothe, simplicity, and the light that never dims...even on the darkest night. So tomorrow is an important day!
I will be honest and say that I don't look forward to the upcoming months and the impact they will have on the ones closest to my heart. For that reason, I am so grateful for each of you who love and support my children as they love me. That is the greatest gift I am experiencing from each of you and I am forever grateful. Thank you for loving my children in the many ways that you do. Know that you are in my heart and in my prayers.
My check-in...physically, I am fatigued and nauseated, emotionallyI am subdued, spiritually, I am blessed. My committment is to make tomorrow and every day important and my affirmation is.
I am strong enough..
Gratitude and love always...Cyndi