Oooooo I know the moment I begin talking about the beauty of chemotherapy I’m opening myself up to all sorts of judgements. Thing is, before I had cancer, it was easy for me to judge too. All I ask is that you take a moment and hear what I’m saying.
Going through chemotherapy is not a fun process. It requires patience, stamina and a whole lot of understand on the part of those around you. Chemotherapy is a toxic poison that anyone not going through cancer can judge all they want. Now that we’re done with that, let’s get to the beauty of chemotherapy.
On January 2, 2018 I went in for my first chemotherapy infusion. I had no idea what to expect, but it was the course I’d decided on so there I was. My husband and I went to the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Waltham and started my four month journey on chemotherapy drugs. That was also the first day I met my nurse, Jennie (who would later be known around my house as ‘my Jennie’). My veins did not cooperate on this first visit. They were hard to find so several nurses came in to help ‘my Jennie’ in placing the catheter. Everyone was so kind.
At my first chemotherapy appointment my husband accompanied me. After that appointment, I had someone new with me each time. Only my mom & sister/cousin Rose came with me twice. There were specific reasons, but the most prominent was that I enjoyed having the company. I also think it helped me keep front and center the support I had. By my third infusion I began to look forward to chemotherapy. I looked forward to seeing my Jennie, my Mary (the wonderful nurse who did acupuncture & acupressure for me and relieved my nausea by her third visit) and interacting with my hero of the day.
The cancer journey can be rigorous and lonely if you allow it to be. However, mine was always filled with love, support and lots of laughter. Although I felt frustrated at times, I never felt alone or lonely. Falling in love with my nurse and nursing staff made every visit an adventure.
Read my article: Working Through Chemo a Survival Guide
The Beauty of Chemotherapy
Now for the beauty. Chemotherapy, as much as we may hate it and consider it a poison, it works. I felt my mass melt away after the first infusion so that by the 5th infusion, we could barely find it. It shrinks tumors and helps give people back their lives.
Chemotherapy brings people together. I met amazing nurses, I’m thankful for my great doctors, but mostly my friends, family and community banded together to give my family the help we needed in going through a major medical crisis. Every call, card, flower, package, meal, blanket, text etc. served to help keep our spirits high and happy. Chemo lets you know who will or will not be there for you in the end. We all need to know that information.
Finally, the thing that chemotherapy did for me, that it seems nothing else ever could, is it gave me time to take time for myself. It knocked me down so that I could take time to allow my body to fight and heal. It taught me how important self-care is no matter what and gave me time to explore what that means to me. Taking time out for yourself is beautiful, chemotherapy taught me that.
Each Decision is Personal
How someone decides to fight their battle with cancer is highly personal. For anyone to berate someone going through chemotherapy is highly ignorant, insensitive and rude. We make choices based on what works for our lives. Whatever someone decides to do, as long as it’s the best thing for them, they should be allowed to do it. Chemotherapy is scary, but if you allow it, chemo will take you to a new level of respect for your mortality. There is beauty in chemotherapy, just as there is in anything that is trying, but you can overcome. Never feel guilty for choosing life via chemo. Those who don’t understand have never stood where you stand, they can’t.
Thank you to Myrna, my Jennie, my Mary and all the nurses at the MGH Cancer Center for making my process one to look forward to every two weeks until we were done. To my Oncologist, Jeff, thank you for being easy to understand and relate to. Finally, to my Jenna, who took over when Jennie had to change shifts, thank you. You all hold a special place in this survivor’s heart because you helped with the battle!
Please know that this is MY experience with chemotherapy. I am a cancer survivor who knows and understands that there are as many stories as there are people fighting cancer. My goal is help someone going through or anticipating chemotherapy treatment know that they can do it. It’s not all bad and keeping a healthy mental attitude does wonders. I’m sure you have opinions, feel free to voice them in the comments, but do so in love. 🙂