My husband and I spent this morning at Massey Cancer Center, getting his first round of chemo for lymphoma. We found out a couple of weeks ago that treatment was necessary, and we spent a week saying positive things to each other while we both silently dreaded the experience.
We designated last week as the “eat all you want” week, so that was fun. No, I don’t have cancer, but hey, I am a supportive wife.
Then, last night, I let my friends know on Facebook about the chemo appointment. And that’s when the joy came flooding in. I showed my husband more than one hundred comments, both from friends we’ve had for years and new friends we’ve never officially met. They sent notes and emails and Facebook messages. They offered prayers and light and support. One of my friends says she rarely prays, but she’d make an exception for us.
Neil and I read these comments with tears streaming down our face. Well, down his face. I refuse to let my tears spill over because I don’t want to have to reapply make-up.
And the fear receded. . .
Our families sent their love and called and offered to help. They asked if I was prepared, a little frightened for Neil since they know my nursing skills. I alluded to this fact in my Facebook post:
Friends: I am asking for prayers and lots of light from you all. My husband’s lymphoma has “activated,’ and we start a six-week round of chemo tomorrow. We are facing it realistically but with laughter and courage, and your positive thoughts and energy are so very welcome.
Also, my nursing skills have never been too good, so pray that the Clara Barton in me is also activated. If I have no nursing skills within me, please ask the actual spirit of Clara Barton to just enter my body and take over for six weeks.
I had friends who began to call me Clara, and showed their faith in my hidden nursing skills. Many made me laugh with their comments and it felt like someone was pouring light into my soul.
Today we laughed . . .
My husband and I arrived at the Massey Cancer Center with two briefcases apiece, loaded with enough work to last us a week. Of course, not one thing was pulled out during our visit except my laptop so we could read notes from friends and family and watch videos that made us laugh.
We had to wait a while for everything to be set up. A woman sitting near us heard our nervous chatter and asked, “Is this your first day of treatment?” She then proceeded to tell us what would happen, to alleviate our jitters. We exhaled.
The nurse finally called Neil’s name, at which point he kicked over his open briefcase, tried to pick it up, and spilled work paraphernalia all over the floor. As the nurse chased highlighters, I said, “Look at you, being all spazzy.” The three of us laughed as we searched for ballpoint pens and paper clips under waiting room chairs.
Once Neil was seated in the treatment area, the nurse briefed us and graciously answered every possible question. A volunteer came by offering a Powerbar and Cheese-its and drinks. We ate our snacks and both got choked on the Powerbar, sure that we were going to get kicked out of the treatment area.
Finally came the chemo.
The nurse needed to give Neil a shot in his upper stomach, at which point he began to unbuckle his pants. We were in an open area with other people receiving chemo. “Honey,” I said, “You don’t need to drop your pants. Just lift up your shirt. You’re looking a little pervy.”
The others who were getting chemo smiled at us through their own fears, and I felt connected to them.
We asked each other what cancer had taught us today (a lesson I learned from a mom dealing with her son’s cancer) . . .
Neil said that he learned to be more compassionate. To appreciate friends and family when he is with them.
I learned that I need to slow down long enough to look at people and see if they need a smile, or a pat on the back, or their highlighter retrieved.
Today we felt God’s light through the love of our friends and family. We saw angels in blue scrubs. And our souls are a little brighter because of the experience. We have many more weeks to go, and we know it could get more challenging, but the true gift was our surroundings and the people who reached out to us even when their circumstances were not favorable.
Compassion is a powerful force, and it created joy in the most unlikely of places.