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Today’s post is from Rachel Pappas, the founder of 1 Up On Cancer
I was sitting in my oversized recliner waiting to hear if chemo was a go for the day. I’d had to skip the last two rounds because my white blood cells were in the basement. I was getting the jitters, afraid I may be running out of options.
“This happens sometimes. Your body just needs a break. You should be fine next week,” nurse Karla promised the first week I was turned away.
My numbers hadn’t budged by the next week, or the week after, and the booster shot I got the next time didn’t raise them either. The next shot was the charm, and I chilled.
Now I was studying Karla’s face, trying to get a read on whether I’d get my hit of taxol today.
“I’m sorry,” she said, shaking her head and pouting her lip, like she was having to inform me I’d just picked the door that the lemon was behind rather than the one concealing the loaded Mercedes.
I’m frantic, thinking about all the time I’ve been chemo-less, and I tell Karla I need to hear more about what would happen next. She disappeared, back a few minutes later.
“Dr. Ella will talk to you in a few minutes”, she smiled, then moved on to check another patient’s IV.
“We can start giving you boosters Monday through Wednesday and chemo on Fridays,” Dr. Ella told me when I was called to the back. “Three shots a week should get your white cell count up, and that’s our goal, to get you healthy. What do you think?”
“I say we go for it. I want to live!” I was pumped, happy again, as she slid over on her stool and listened to my lungs.
“I’m scared and stressed. I know that being that way isn’t helping. I tell myself that, which only makes it worse.”
Dr. Ella smiled. “Just three more treatments left. We’ll get you through this,” she cheered me on.
My safety net has been restrung. On my way out, I stopped to say hi to one of my favorite pink sisters. I could tell by her ashen face and tired eyes that she wasn’t having a good day. I asked anyway, so she’d know I was thinking about her.
“Hey, how are you doing, Joanna?”
“Not so great,” she said, looking like she could cry. “I get so stressed when I come here. I’m bald and I’m fat.” She sighed, exasperated.
“And alive,” I added, noticing her mother, beside her, perk up and smile.
Wait. Was that me talking? Yeah, it was. And I hadn’t even made a conscious effort to grope for the positive. It was just there. Right in front of me. No, somehow it got inside of me.
I told her next time I’d bring her a book she’d love. “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. It’s got some wild stories. It’ll crack you up,” I promised.
“Thanks,” she whispered.
“Hang in there, Joanna,” I said, feeling her mother’s bright eyes on me, knowing this older woman was happy someone else was trying to cheer her daughter to the finish line.
On the way out, I took a hat from a wicker basket at the nurses’ station. A group of ladies made them for the patients. I’d never taken one because, well, they were bizarre. They looked like bathing caps, though soft and fuzzy. I’d wondered if the ladies raised baby chicks, or owned stock in down.
This time I slipped on the hot-pink cap I’d pulled from the pile. I thought of the women who made them, how sweet it was that they did this. That’s what I needed to do. Think healing thoughts, and slipping into this cap would put me on that path. This fluffy, warm crown became my happy pill, reminding me of the power in warm thoughts— and the power of other peoples’ support.
Rachel Pappas is a two-year breast cancer survivor. She has a website, www.1UpOnCancer. You’ll find only the positive there.
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Kim, Director of Strategic Partnerships for MyLifeLine.org, and a breast cancer survivor, wrote a guest post for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s blog. Check out the post on Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s blog http://bit.ly/ndmKwm
From time to time we will post studies that are being conducted to benefit cancer patients and caregivers. Here’s the latest…
The University of Wisconsin – Madison Center for Health Enhancement System Studies would like to know if those who are facing non small cell lung cancer (either personally or with a loved one) would be interested in joining a study funded by the National Cancer Institute to see if providing information and support improves quality of life and survival time. This study is currently only available at a few hospitals but we will be opening up enrollment soon.
Please call 1-800-361-5481 to learn more about this study.
Thank you for letting them know of your interest.