goodbye, chemo. thank you, nurses.

on tuesday afternoon as the last of the herceptin dripped through my IV, i felt good.  like really good,  knowing that i could now see chemotherapy only in the rearview mirror.

one of my favorite nurses jeannie gave me the last chemo. the rest of my crack nursing team–emily, jay, ilonah, pauline, and katie–gave me a going away present, including a sweet little purse for our upcoming trip.  they mixed in a few tidbits from the infusion center, like gauze tape, tissues, and pill shot cups which i could use for alcohol according to ilonah.

these women serve a special, even holy, place in this world and have been a major part of my life since last september. they’ve seen me at my absolute worst, been cheerleaders to get me on the other side, provided treatment and side effect management with sympathy, empathy at times, but never pity. they are quick to get me a warm blanket (maybe one thing i’ll actually miss about the infusion center!). they’ve shared bits of themselves with me…stories about tripping at the cal-train station, their babies, recipes, their own bouts with cancer, caring for an ailing uncle, ringworm back on the farm in ireland, and struggling with the paleo diet. they’ve missed mike when he wasn’t there, and equally welcomed thecast of friends and family who sat with me instead.

i mentioned to nurse emily a few months ago that i would love to do a documentary on oncology nurses in infusion centers, what makes them so resilient to be surrounded by so many sick people in a place those sick people really don’t want to be.  her response said it all:  “i can’t believe i’m even paid to do this work. i feel so lucky.”

well, i feel lucky to be on the other side of chemo and to have met these women.  even though i’ll be back for my shots, we had a tearful goodbye.  pauline asked me to never come back…for treatment, that is. cutting the cord is what we all want, but it’s going to take awhile to unpack this jumble of emotions.

i’m off work now, and we’re off traveling soon. let the healing begin…

happy thanksgiving. 

xom

ps go staunton bulldogs and congrats on making it to the championship!!! 

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