Tuesday was take your friend to chemo day and so that’s what I did. I picked Cheri up from her work and we headed down to the Lemmen-Holten Cancer Pavilion. We arrived early enough to have a yummy lunch in their cafe and then quickly browse the gift store. They had shirts with sayings like Cancer Sucks, Warning: I have chemo brain, what’s your excuse? and I fight cancer like a girl… which the latter was my personal favorite.
I think the expectation would be that this would be a horrible experience, taking someone you love to their chemo appointment. A slap in the face with the reality that they do have cancer, just in case you forgot. But my friend, Cheri is amazing. True to her spirit, she made it into an adventure instead of a moment of sadness.
She checked in and we went back. The nurse came and hooked up her first concoction. There would be 3 bags of medicine for her and each one would be about 45min. We settled in for a stay. Cheri got as comfy in her chair as she could, her warm blanket wrapped around her. We chatted and sipped our hot chocolate. We talked about our lives, we talked about how nice the Pavilion was and sometimes we talked about her cancer.
She’s been blessed that the chemo hasn’t made her really sick. She takes her anti-nausea pill if she feels any indication of an upset stomach. She hasn’t had a problem with extra sensitivity in her hands & feet yet. Her hair has just started to fall out. Not a huge amount but some. We had gone shopping for her wig before she started treatment so that was ready to go whenever she needs it. Her & I discussed her shaving her head. I felt completely unqualified to advise her in this. I could see why she would want to be in control of losing her hair. Lose it on her terms and not the chemo/cancer’s. But shaving your hair all off is kind of a big deal and I didn’t want her to do something impulsive. Ultimately, it was her call but we decided maybe she would wait a little longer.
As we sat there, Cheri noticed someone she knew. This is hardly unusual for her. We don’t ever go anywhere without her seeing someone she knows but running into someone at a cancer center is not something you want. She caught up with them for a while and then shared with me that he was dying. They had done everything they could do and he was just trying to get a little bit more time with this dose of chemo. It was a reality check to me. What we were doing there and who we were surrounded by. In every little cubby, people were hooked up to IV’s and all of those people were fighting for their lives. All of those people had families that loved them and friends that cared about them.
I looked at my friend and marveled at her spirit. Even seeing the cold hard truth of what cancer could mean, she wasn’t dissuaded from thinking the best out of every situation. She told me she felt honored to share this last part of her friends journey with him. That to have their chemo treatments together was a good thing. She said I couldn’t understand that and she’s probably right. I think cancer and all it entails is something you can’t fathom until you go through it.
She ended up shaving her head a day or so later. She’s still as beautiful as she ever was. Her wig looks fantastic. Cancer still sucks but she still inspires me.