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Sounds rather macabre doesn’t it? Not a party one would willing attend. But if you have cancer and want to live to tell about it, it is a necessary evil. And so I have decided to turn an unpleasant event into a tolerable one. For two months I attended one of these parties every two weeks and each time, knowing how I would feel afterward, I decided that I would just relax and go with it. And every time I met interesting people, going through similar experiences as I am and they too were making the best of it.

In my doctor’s office there are two chemo rooms with eight big, comfy, overstuffed recliner chairs covered in brown Naugahyde. They are positioned against the wall but facing toward the center of the room. Each chair, station has a metal pole to hold the bags of meds and another small chair for the family, support person to use. Most people bring someone with them; a family member or a friend.
When I went for my first treatment, I went alone, driving myself to and from the office. But then my son came to visit and was with me for my second treatment and I decided it is much better to someone with you. So now I have friends taking me each time and it is definitely comforting to have them there. Sometimes they don’t sit with me the two to three hours that it takes and that is okay. I wouldn’t expect them to. But they are there and especially for the drive home when I can be a little unstable from the drugs they give me.

I have met some extraordinary people from all walks of life. One time there was a young woman who has breast cancer and she was getting her chemotherapy and then had to go on to work afterward. She works a full time job in a machine shop retrofitting aircraft parts; a man’s job.  I asked her how she was able to carry on with the work and the chemotherapy and she said she just did it. She felt like crap most of the time but didn’t have a choice. What a brave person she is. No doubt she is forced to work as she would not have health insurance if she quit her job. What a sad situation that I am sure many people are dealing with. And I talked to others, one woman with lung cancer, and the cancer had spread throughout her body, but she was hopeful that she would come through this. Her daughter, who quit her job to take care of her was with her. So brave these people are.

So we laugh and talk about our bald heads and our wigs and funny hats. One time the nurse brought around some little knit caps that some kind person had knit for cancer patients. She said it was going to be cold next week and we might need them. She let us pick out the ones we liked. I said that we should have a hat fashion show and everyone laughed.

Yes, it’s a bad situation and I would rather not be here. But this too will pass and while I am about it, I will make the best of it. And, you know, it hasn’t been as bad as i thought it would be. I would rather be doing other things to be sure. Like climbing mountains, skiing, traveling. But there will be a time for these activities. This is just a small blip on my radar screen and I will come out a better, stronger person, I know. Just eleven more sessions to go. Yea.

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