12/02/2009

Wednesday - New Stories













Venice Wall

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.

11 comments:

Jai Joshi said...

Best wishes to you and your family, Ellouise. I heard you're going through a difficult time right now.

Jai

Debbie Couture said...

Hi Ellouise, Sounds like a good first day with lots of bonding. Some women at my church make prayer shawls too. Good to know that people are praying for you. I am praying the chemo works really well for Jim. Take care of yourselves.

ELLOUISESTORY said...

Thanks Debbie. Appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers. Means a lot.

Cathy said...

Hang in there! Yes, there is alot of bonding in cancer treatment. It's good for all of us. I'll be praying for you guys.
Cathy

Angela said...

Hey Ellouise!

I came here from Granny Sue's blog. I'm so sorry to hear that your husband's cancer has returned. I will say a prayer for him. Sounds like he is at the right place to receive his treatments.

I live in West Virginia but back when I was first married 18 years ago we lived in Accokeek, Maryland then we moved to Upper Marlboro and then to Clinton for a total of 4 years before we returned back to West Virginia. At first I was in cultural shock when we first moved there. I grew to know where you could go and couldn't go and finally started enjoying living there but we still longed for West Virginia. I like to refer to my years in Maryland as a very long honeymoon as we went to DC, National Zoo, George Washington's house and all of that sight seeing just about every weekend. I do miss that. Falls Church Mall was a favorite place to go too!

Granny Sue said...

As usual, Ellouise, you focused on others and found stories and connection just sitting in the waiting room. Jim will come through with flying colors. Prayers continue for both of you. You will get through this.

Jai Joshi said...

How wonderful that the patients all support each other through such a time. It shows the power of the human spirit and that we are all bonded at the fundamental level.

Continued best wishes.

Jai

Carolyn Stearns Storyteller said...

Ellouise, my prayers go out to you both, his for healing and you for the strength to be at his side through this. I know , my daughter had cancer this year, it was a long year but she beat it and Jim can too!. The chemo treatment room is an amazing place, every week another story unfolds and you meet the most amazing people.You might be interested in the first couple months of my daughters blog, she writes well and many people follow her. The blog is at www.freewebs.com/whatsupwithstacey/ Her last chemo was April 3, since then she has had clear scans (she had stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma)Some days during chemo she rode her horse, now I know to beat cancer "YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT MAKES YOUR HEART SING" after chemo she began inching back then taking steps toward recovery. By July she was ready to show her horse again and also did a 15 mile competitve trail ride on him! I wish for you a swift and smooth path through the treatment phase and onto recovery. God Speed!

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