Although this blog is dedicated to those with serious illnesses and especially to my fellow travelers on the cancer journey, rarely do we discuss topics specifically related to illness. Rather, we like to think of this blog as a vacation from the serious issues we deal with each day, a way of celebrating life and sharing what we’ve learned is really important—laughter, love and learning.
However, there are times when, incredible as it may sound, the very act of dealing with illness brings love and laughter into our life and teaches us something we think might be of value to others. This past Friday was one of those times, so I want to share what happened in the hope that it might take some of the fear and anxiety out of the idea of cancer treatment.
Every three weeks, I go to the Monter Center on Long Island to receive a “maintenance dose” of Herceptin to remind any cancer that is hanging out in my body that if it thinks it’s going to start partying and causing trouble, it can think again. Stretch always comes along with me, just as he goes everywhere else with me. Here’s how Friday’s session of what I’m now relabeling “Chemobearapy” went:
Most of the nurses in the center know Stretch, so when we arrive he’s greeted and petted on the head. Last week we had a nurse, Jane, who hasn’t treated us before, so of course she was curious about the hub bub that Stretch causes. I explained to her about the blog and introduced her to Stretch. Their eyes met, she smiled at him, and it was love at first sight.
Stretch of course wanted to impress her, so he volunteered to help her by watching my IV monitor. She was delighted to have his assistance and told him so.
As he was busy helping Jane, we had another visitor to our cubicle, a social worker named Sandra. She introduced herself and told me about some new support programs the Monter Center is starting for breast cancer patients. (Bridge to Survivorship. Contact Sandra Caparco at the Monter Center (516) 734-8744 for info) I introduced her to Stretch and she proceeded to fuss over him. Well, that fickle little bear left his post at the IV monitor, crawled into Sandra’s pocket, took hold of her pen and proceeded to charm her and offer his assistance in getting the word out about the new social programs.
But he deftly managed to get back to the cubicle in time to look as if he had been sitting there diligently watching the chemo monitor for Jane just as the alarm went off to indicate the 30 minute session was completed.
We shared some hugs all around, Stretch presented Jane with a St. Patrick’s Day plant to reassure her that she was still Number One in his heart, and we went on our way feeling that not only had we treated our cancer, we had also replenished our spirit.
Living with a life-threatening illness is like being on a roller coaster. Friday was one of the days when you reach the top of the hill and instead of crashing down in terror, you plunge laughing and waving your arms, feeling exhilarated. Unfortunately you don’t get to step off the roller coaster at the bottom. But as the ride continues remember that it’s always good to look forward in hopeful anticipation with a positive attitude rather than letting cancer fill you with fear. And make sure you take along fellow riders that give you courage and inspire you. I was going to suggest you might want to find your own little mascot, too—but be warned that they are high maintenance and tend to take over your blog, as well as run your life.
Thank you Jane and Sandra for doing all you can to make sure “treatment” is a “treat!”
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S. Thompson