Wednesday - New Stories
This has been a day like any day when you begin a new journey - FULL.
Jim's new Chemotherapy treatments began today. He is well on his way. And like any journey we met new companions. I am going to tell you a bit about my side-line view of the experience because I was so impressed touched by the other patients and their strong spirit.
There are ten comfortable lounge chairs in the room where the IV medications are administered. The infusions take 2 to 3 hours. Because there were few people in today I was allowed to stay with Jim. I was grateful to be there.
Patients sit close to each other. Cancer bonds everyone in the room. You feel the experienced reaching out to bring the "new guy" into their community. Conversations are friendly with a lot of humor. "Better to laugh." one patient said. And all are generous with their advice from their experience.
"Eat your way through chemo. Keep your weight up." " I eat red meat to keep my red blood count up." " Keep your system open." "Oops, chemo-brain." All this is slipped in between laughter, joking, and talking about the news - even when people are going through a rough patch.
An elegant, very stylishly dressed woman who was sitting next to Jim is further along with the exact treatment that Jim is starting. She has the same cancer. There was an immediate connection between them. She began, " I am 83 years old and I had never been sick in my life. I did not smoke, never had, and only took an occasional drink. There was no cancer in my family. I had a pain in my side. Then the diagnosis. It was like a bolt of lightning." Later she added, "I consider this a time to repair relationships and to prepare for what's ahead."
(A bolt of lightning is certainly the way we have felt about the sudden return of Jim's cancer. We feel fortunate that the treatment could be started so quickly. )
A man in the tall chair next to me mentioned that he mixes dried teas to blend his personal breakfast tea. When I was interested he told me about McNulty's in New York City. This company, which sells the best in coffees and teas, was opened in the 1890's and still uses some of the original furnishings in the shop. "Its like stepping back in time when you walk into that place." If you are as curious as I was - you can find out more at HERE. We chatted over quite a few topics from his career as a Senior Senate staffer on Capitol Hill which began in the mid-1970s - a simpler time - to his chance to be part of an experiment in gene therapy to deal with his disease.
Another younger woman across the room was wrapped in blankets - bright red around her feet and up to her knees, topped with a bright purple blanket that came to her bust where she was wearing a turquoise shirt. Her shoulders were wrapped by a multi-colored knitted shawl. Jim said, " those are beautiful colors you are wearing."
"Do you see this?" She pulled the shawl from around her shoulders and spread it out over her lap. "Let me tell you what happened. A stranger - a woman I have never met - sent this to me. It came unannounced in a box in the mail. She knows my sister-in-law and she sent it because she heard about the tumor in my lung." " I cried and cried at her thoughtfulness in sending it."
"You're wrapped in love." I volunteered. "My sister makes those - prayer shawls - its her personal ministry." And, I thought of my sister and how she prays as she knits a shawl - and how
she is herself receiving Chemo these days in another state.
She is sharing the things she has learned about these treatments with Jim.
Life is circles.
Posted by ELLOUISESTORY