Chemo Ward is rather a 1960s phrase — Infusion Area is the new, modern term. But if chemotherapy is involved, I think it should be in the title. So I will call it Chemo Area to blend the old with the new. Going to the Chemo Area is inspirational. Now I say that as a Cancer Survivor, not as a Cancer Patient! I did not find it so inspiring when I was the patient. But now that my sister is the patient suffering the horrid consequences of Chemo, and I am along for moral support and unsolicited advice, I can be more relaxed to realize all the inspiration that is transpiring.
Inspiration comes in the form of the patients who are gathered for the same objective on any given day: receiving toxic drugs to kill cancer or prevent cancer from recurring. It seems to me fate has a role in deciding who will be your chemo “neighbors” on infusion day. Somehow, they are always inspiring and just what you need to hear. Like the woman who was in her mid 50s sitting next to my sister. As she told us what her diagnosis was, my sister and I simultaneously tried to suppress gasps when she said “pancreatic cancer” as our father died of that horrible cancer. But we were both so uplifted after talking with her. She has been alive over a year, her tumors are being managed with chemotherapy, and she is hoping to live quite awhile.
The following week, the woman next to Diann was also receiving Chemo for pancreatic cancer. Her husband said she was a “walking miracle” – and she was! It was healing for both Diann and I to hear about great breakthroughs they are making in pancreatic cancer.
Then there was the 34 year old young man, diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was so uplifting to hear his story and hear about all the people who were helping him make the several hour journey to the cancer center DAILY for 5 hour infusions! He told us he had been with his employer only 2 weeks when he was diagnosed. How marvelous to hear that his employer has been behind him all the way. That made me feel so good as I get letters from cancer patients whose employers fire them with a cancer diagnosis after many years of dedicated service.
The Chemo Nurses are a special breed all their own! Chemo Nurses are definitely at the top of my list for those people whom I admire! One nurse who has 7 months to retire, has been an Oncology nurse for 40 years. Talk about dedication!!
And anyone who reads my blog knows that as a result of going through chemo and seeing a need, I began selling Chemo Hats and created my online store at http://www.hellocourage.com As a result of constantly searching for new and different hats, imagine how I am around a bunch of cancer patients many with hats on. I start staring at their hats – and I mean staring! The other day a gal had on a darling sequined cap. I get sidetracked and don’t realize there is a person under that cap – until she finally asked me, “Can I help you?” I started to laugh and apologize at the same time.
Spending the day in a Chemo Area isn’t anyone’s first choice of how to spend a day. But if you have a chance to accompany a friend, family member or stranger, get beyond your fears and do so. Not only will you make a difference in their lives and do the cancer patient a kindness they will never forget, you will come away inspired by the amazing people you meet!