When you have cancer and are prescribed chemotherapy, the first thing you do is panic. Your oncologist hands you a bunch of paper listing all the side effects of the poisons they plan to put into your body, and you panic. You panic about losing your hair, you panic about the nausea, you panic about the mention of sudden death, you panic about the impossibly stupid costs, etc. You panic about just about everything.
And then you actually start chemo, and everything you panicked about seems...routine. Mundane. Even banal. You show up at your appointed time and the nurse weighs you and takes you to a room filled with other cancer patients. You get a comfy chair, they stick the needle in your mediport, and the drugs start dripping through the tube. Then you sit and do whatever you want for however long it takes, which for me is about three or four hours each time.
My husband comes with me, and we usually bring books, computers, magazines, and whatever to occupy the time. When we first arrived for our initial appointment, we expected a room filled with dread, fear, and despair. Maybe a little anger. All of us have a disease that requires more than a pound of flesh for even the hope of a cure, after all. Who wouldn't be upset, angry, or depressed about that?
Reality is a different story.
I've sat next to people who were quiet or sleeping during their treatments, but that's been the exception. Usually we are greeted with smiles and cheers. It's like I've joined a club of some sort, and Larry gets to come along, too. One visit Larry spent the entire three hours talking to two other gentlemen about the Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s, the Union Pacific Railroad, and East Texas, while I crocheted and listened.
There's been a lot more laughter than I expected. One person asks for a margarita to be added to their IV each time I'm there, with the others chiming in with their alcoholic beverage of choice. We joke about our hair, and gripe about the weather. When and if we do discuss our cancers, it is always in a upbeat tone, no matter what. Even the people who end up at the hospital for a transfusion seem happy. I've decided that having a good attitude is essential to fighting cancer. Keeping your spirits up, and sharing that cheer with your fellow cancer patients, can make all the difference.
This week, when I was visiting for a blood check, a woman(who has been dealing with cancer for fifteen years) got up from her chair to visit the restroom. Since she was attached to the IV, she started to pull the IV pole with her as she crossed the floor. When this tiny, frail woman got to the middle of the room, she stopped.
"Look!" she said, smiling "I'm a pole dancer!"
And she did a very slow turn around her IV pole. The rest of us applauded and laughed as she took a short bow.
Go visit Mamakat's Pretty Much World Famously Awesome Workshop and check out the other writers! The prompt I chose was 2. Something that made you smile this week.