Guest Author: Observations from Chemotherapy

Maggie, my rock, Thelma to my Louise, my spirit animal and best friend was with me during my Cytoxan priming last week. She brought travel boggle, card games, relationship quizzes (for us!) and more. More than stuff, Maggie brings with her the power of observation and intuition. She was there for me, and I could be ill or rest and know she would catch me — literally — if I fell (my legs don’t work so well when on high-dose chemo). She’s always by my side and for her, I’m eternally grateful.

Here are her observations.

Cytoxan Priming at Taussig Cancer Center

Wednesday was a hard day, and I was just an observer and a pack mule. I know my presence brings comfort, inappropriate jokes, activities to play while getting meds and an understanding that I will be there if Carolyn falls apart (emotionally, mentally or physically) and I am 100% okay with this.

Carolyn was there from 7am to 6pm, most of the time receiving medication. There was laughter, so many meds, tears, snot, more laughter, lots of saline, more meds, more tears, amazing visitors, some puking, a really bad ginger ale and a few crackers. Oh yeah, and more meds. Did I mention she had a LOT of meds? It was like watching my friend turn into a Thanksgiving Day float with the amount of liquid running through Inspector Gadget (also known as her central line).

My perspective is one of friend, caregiver and all-around sassy, judgement-filled short person. Those who have met me know I have opinions on a lot of things and often will tell you all of my opinions.

However, I find myself keeping a lot of my opinions on what is happening right now to myself because this is all new territory and most of the opinions are not based in fact—just feelings and feelings are annoying. What the heck do I know about HSCT? Not much, only what I have read and what I’m learning from this experience thus far.

Things I didn’t expect to feel yesterday—helpless, angry, responsible for something I have zero control over, resentful, hopeful, in awe of science and fantastic medical professionals, love and resolute that this journey will be life-altering for all of us.

It is truly an honor to be a witness right now. There is nothing like watching a mother watch her youngest child sleeping (as her skin tone changes from gray to pink to white to gray to pink), even though said child is an adult, and try to ease her pain. Even my cold, black heart warmed as I listened to Carolyn’s sister say goodbye, while reassuring her that she is doing an amazing job and is one of the strongest people she knows. These were just two small moments that are implanted in me.

Everyone who walked into the private but compact infusion room came with such positive intent. Carolyn had colleagues, all of whom are true friends, stop by to give a hug, touch a hand and show her how much support she truly has. If yesterday was any indication, as it was only the start of this process, this is going to be quite the difficult experience, and all the amazing people rooting for Carolyn will truly make a difference.  

As I end my day today, purchasing vomit bags from Amazon to be delivered to my lovely friend, there are a lot of stupid feelings still bumping around in my body. I will most likely eat some of them away, watch some of them away, and then push some of them away—but, I will remember to keep feeling them. 

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