Stories from chemo hell

On the hottest day of the year, I accompanied my partner to his first round of chemo. It was only 10 short days ago when we spent 3 hours with an oncologist and the oncology nurse learning about John’s diagnosis of lung cancer. There’s still questions as to what stage and exactly what type of cancer he has. But, it is cancer. So, here we sit, waiting for the nurse to start his IV. There are 18-20 chemo stations with a comfy chair for the patient receiving cancer and a not so comfy chair for their caregiver, a tv, snacks, a refrigerator, and many chemo pods come with a window view. Of the parking lot.

I lean up against the window, feeling the heat, so I check my phone for the weather, realizing it’s the hottest day on record so far. This will definitely make rehabbing from chemo that much more comfortable in my un air conditioned home. Do I sound a bit sarcastic and cynical? Yes, I’m just not feeling the love these days. The enormity of cancer is hitting me full force as the nurse explains the process and schedule for the day and the side effects of chemo. I look around the room and see at least a dozen other people receiving chemo. I hiss at the woman who chooses to sit in the pod next to ours and the first thing out of her mouth is, “I thought I was going to have a private room?”. Welcome to cancer hell, lady. Apparently, cancer knows no bounds and if this isn’t a lesson you’ve already learned, now is the time.

I realize that I may be talking to this other lady, but I may as well be talking to myself as well. In a matter of seconds, my life has changed. John had been ill for several months. His doctor thought he had pneumonia and prescribed three separate rounds of antibiotics before John insisted on different tests. A CT scan showed ‘something’ while the initial bronchoscopy diagnosed the cancer. Again, we don’t have a clear stage or type yet, so a second bronchoscopy is scheduled for tomorrow.

I come back to the nurse who is patiently explaining todays process. He and John chat about hiking and fishing between the medical jargon. I look around and can feel the sick in the air. John is the youngest patient here and clearly the most healthy looking. I can’t wait to go home and take a shower. I know I can’t catch it, but I need to get the sick off me. Maybe I will wake up and this will all be a bad dream? This is my wish as I spend the day looking out the window.

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