This entry is a little overdue, but two weeks ago was my third chemo treatment. Looking back, it was definitely more challenging than the first two.
Per usual my parents drove me to the hospital and this time we were in the company of a new guest. My mom’s best friend Sara would join me for my infusion to keep me company. Sara is like my second mother so I was really happy to know that she would be sitting next to me through thick and thin.
As much as I was trying to be calm about going back for treatment, I felt the anxiety slowly creep over me when getting through the infusion floor. Undergoing chemotherapy has both heightened my senses and put them out of whack. As soon as I sat in my room’s recliner I jumped out. The smell of the disinfectant cleaner was absolutely repulsive so we were switched to a different room.
I got comfortable, kicked the recliner back, and relaxed under a warm blanket with my water, crackers, and vomit bag. The medicine I receive is called ABVD, which sounds just as bad as it tastes. Even though I receive the medicine through an IV, you can almost instantaneously taste it in the back of your mouth. Imagine the taste of accidentally inhaling a cleaning product and then letting it linger for a few days.
This was the most difficult treatment yet. For whatever reason the chemo really hit me hard coupled with the Benadryl dosage. I felt all of my feelings and sensations hit me at the same time. Happy, sad, nervous, sleepy/drowsy, pain, nauseous, weakness, tired, excited, happy, sad, nervous, sleepy/drowsy, pain, nauseous, weak, tired, excited, etc. Your body feels like a science experiment.
Luckily the hospital provided complementary massages so I went with a foot massage. While lying back and listening to music I couldn’t hold back the tears. As much as I am doing my best to keep it together, sometimes you just feel overwhelmed. This is why everyone has told me that the real battle takes place in the mind. If you can work to control your thoughts and feelings, the physical intensity is more manageable.
Unfortunately for Sara I was not chatty at all this time around compared to my first two infusions. Without over dramatizing, it was hard to hold a conversation and focus. Fortunately for me though, I had one of my closest family members next to me and I could just be as I was. Having such presence was all I really needed that day to get me through to the finish line.
It’s amazing to hear other cancer survivors tell me, in strange ways, that they are happy they went through what they did. While we all know this is not exactly a joyous matter, the gift is that it simply puts everything into perspective. Point blank. You know what’s important and what’s not. It also is a catalyst to clear your channels and open your vessels to be 100% you.
In my opinion, there really is nothing so special about sharing this epiphany through my journey because we all face challenges to learn and grow throughout our lives. In the same way you build strength by stressing your muscles, so to do you build your emotional intelligence by maintaining control over your neurons in the face of intense stressors. It doesn’t matter what way the challenge manifests for you, the lesson will always be towards growth. One of my lessons just happened to manifest in the form of cancer.
One of my Rabbis told me that this is how Gd builds superstars. This is what keeps me strong. People have mentioned to me that “when this is all over” you’ll be unstoppable and able to get through anything. Why do I have to wait until “this is all over?” I choose to be unstoppable now and so can you.