We checked in at the front desk and were directed to the Infusion Room… oh the infusion room… the one I had toured the previous week in preparation for this day. The one in which I saw an endless row of green dentist chairs filled with people who looked as if they were clinging to life. I blocked out that thought.
Marcella, Jenn and I settled into a chair area in the corner. Even though I was nervous, I was reassured by my girls in my chemo posse. My chemo nurse, Melissa, came by to connect a needle to my port and flush it with saline. An aroma puff of what can only be described as lemon-lime skunk drifted into my mouth cavity. As I got an unpleasant confused look on my face, Melissa said, “Oh you are one of the lucky ones… you can taste it.” Amazing that she was pumping something into my heart, but I could taste it in my mouth. Melissa started my premeds, which included a rather large dose of Benadryl. I began to slur my words, but my anxiety was gone.
Jenn started making conversation about upcoming social events. In particular, a huge 30th birthday party for an old friend. She asked me if I was planning to go, and I replied, “I’m not making plans these days. I’m living it day to day. Get cancer, get a new perspective.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a frail woman who was reading a book nod her head in agreement. Stage 4 cancer… this woman has had stage 4 cancer two times. Now THAT was a dose of perspective. She asked me what kind of cancer I had. When I replied breast cancer, she said, “Oh, you’ll be fine. They know so much about that these days.” And that was that. Reassurance from someone who is living on the edge and trying not to fall off.
As the chemo bags were hung on the IV stand, they were pumped into me one by one. My mom came to keep me company as Jenn and Marcella had to get to class and work. The whole thing took about 5 hours. They were the shortest 5 hours of my life. As I was leaving, a seemingly healthy 40-something man came in and sat a few chairs down from me. Seconds later, his wife was running with a vomit bag. Yuck. I wondered if that was in store for me. All I could do was wait and pray that my body didn’t punish me too harshly for poisoning it. Melissa flushed my port with saline and Heparin and stuck a Snoopy band-aid on my chest.
Round one down, five more to go.