The first person Kevin and I saw at RVH yesterday was Amy. Who wouldn’t feel all warm and fuzzy walking to the chemo suite for the first of six poisonings – only to be greeted by a young woman with a huge smile and hug to boot?
“My Mom told me you were coming in today, Stacey”, she taunted me. “I had to make sure I was here to greet you!”
It made a difference. Her smile, her warmth, her genuine interest in her patients’ (and friends’) well-being.
“I’ve got a room ready for you – chair #30 – right by the window so you’ve got a room with a view of the outside world.”
What else could I say but “great” and “thanks”? There are no other words. Not that I was in a rush to get started on chemo but, what the heck, why not enjoy the view?
“I’ll get your chart and get you ready to go.”
And off we went. Kevin and I. My heart racing. My head spinning. But not quite as bad as the night before.
And there “she” was. Another familiar face. Nurse Karen. Another face – nurse Andrea. It was like home-coming. Smiles from everyone. Greetings. They were happy to see me – but not happy at the same time. You know, that meant I had cancer again and that was not the objective. From that moment on – I knew I was going to be in very good hands. I was not going to worry about having an allergic reaction. I was not going to worry about the speed of the meds being pumped in. I really had no worries – other than my veins. Chemo kills veins. I was no exception. After a few pokes and prods with the needle, the team decided to try a new area of unexplored veins called, “dinner table” veins. That worked. We were away to the races.
A good-looking young couple was seated beside me where the woman was to begin her chemo. She was a nurse and he, a teacher. She took out a sandwich almost as soon as she sat down and offered me a piece. I thought, “this is looking promising”! Being in chemo for nearly a full day requires that one is seated beside someone interesting and compatible. I seemed to have lucked out. We chatted about our cancers (not supposed to do that) and life (good thing to do) and travels (always interesting). I learned I needed a pic line and “she” reassured me that was a good idea. Nurse Karen ordered one. Done. Fait accomplis. Just like that. “She” showed me her fashion wear designed to cover the pic area and how to order them on-line. Kevin order me one. Done. Fait accomplis. Just like that.
No sooner had I begun my pre-meds when Kevin jumped up and rushed to the door. He left. He came back arm in arm with “Marc”. It was the same Marc that had reassured Kevin and I that stage IV cancer didn’t mean death. The same Marc who reassured us that chemo works. The same Marc who comforted me when he told me he had never got mouth sores, or pneumonia, or vomited. He had tolerated chemo well and he was on a tough one. I was elated to see him looking so well, yet, sad to see him back. It is such a weird bitter-sweet thing to see someone you enjoy being with … but not wanting them to be in the same place with you.
Marc’s cancer had a few complications. In spite of that, he was in such good spirits. So positive. “B and I have thought about you often and prayed that you were doing well. Honestly, we talk about you a lot. You two had such positive attitudes and always up-beat.”
“Kevin and I felt the same way about you, Marc. You know I wrote a story about you?”
“Yes – and I lost the contact you gave me. Or so, I thought. I found it only the other day and was able to navigate to your web-site. That’s how I knew you were here today and I came looking for you.”
“Did you read “your” story?” I asked him.
“No. I couldn’t find it.”
So, I gave him directions to find it. “It’s called Mark and Bea. I know I spelled your names wrong, but I intend to fix it.”
We chatted for a good half hour and parted with the promise to keep in touch.
“You know I’m going to have to write about this visit, eh, Marc?” I advised him.
“I look forward to reading about it, he said.”
No sooner had Marc departed when the entourage began. First with my nurse Candi to check up on me – then Amy to be sure I was settled, then my friend Cathy to continue her routine of “never missing to visit me on a single chemo-therapy”. Amazing. I felt loved. I didn’t care that I was unable to form words because of the benedryl administered via IV. I was happy beyond words. Then the girls came: Katya, Emily, and Katlin. Then Ben. Then I was done. I had 4 more hours of being hooked up which Kevin and I spend in a haze of fatigue and chemo. It was a long day. But it had been a good day.
“You are all set, Stacey”, said Nurse Karen once I was unplugged.
Off we went. Home. Chemo # 1 down. Five more to go – I hoped.
It was only fitting, I thought, that Marc was there today. He and Bea were with us on the beginning of our last journey and he is with us on the beginning of this one. Journey number one went well – gave me another year of life. Here’s to hoping this journey will go just as well. Maybe “Marc” was our good luck charm? Maybe we were his? Who knows?
I still find it odd to have friends that you really like but never want to see in that same place again.