D-Day: Chemo Begins Part 2

Each barcolounger has an IV pole and stiff visitor’s chair beside it. Snapping myself back into, I Do Hospitals mode, I swap out my stiff chair for a padded one from the waiting area, not giving a flip what anyone thinks. We have 6 hours ahead of us….

Every person in a Barco is another human being having poisonous cocktails dripped into their bodies. It seems no chair in the Chemo Lounge stays empty for long. I think to myself, Does every freaking person in L.A. have cancer?

Between every few barcoloungers is a white kitchen-sized trash can (but with no lid which I find odd) and an outdated wood table (think furnished college apartment circa 1984) stacked with copious magazines and a single tissue box.

In short order we put the tissues to good use.

Seated in her Barco with her fuzzy, feisty leopard print blankie on her lap, CC still can’t believe this is happening. “I swear, someone must have switched my chart at the doctor’s office,” she says to the Chemo Nurse, who just entered our little corner of the lounge and took a seat on a wheeled stool. “How can I feel so healthy and be here? I feel like I should cry but I don’t want to.”

In a split second ChemoNurse is knee to knee and forehead to forehead with CC,

“I want you to cry.

This is real.

It’s going to be hard.”

The nurse gets her wish as tears start streaming down CC’s elegant, radiant face. I cry. The woman in the neighboring chair nods and cries.

ChemoNurse wastes no time as she preps CC’s port for the IV line. CC grabs my hand and looks away as I pretend the IV thingy – a one inch oval disc-like base housing a half inch NAIL – is no big deal. “Ready?” asks the nurse. CC squeezes my hand harder, “No.” Before the “O” has left the air, ChemoNurse plunges the scary looking nail thingy into CC’s port.

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I didn’t realize the chest skin still has to be broken every time the IV line is connected to the port. I want to throw up. Now and for the next 12 months that hideous thing gets jabbed into my friend’s chest. Instead I open my mouth and say, “Okay I lied that thing was HUGE!”

“I know! I FELT it!”

At some point we let go of each other’s hands. We pepper Ellen (that’s her name—the woman in the next lounge chair) with questions. She’s finishing up the year-long journey CC is just starting. We learn about Chemo exhaustion, juicing, acidic foods and cooking for chemo. We tell her newly growing cropped hairstyle is gorgeous—she is gorgeous. She questions our sincerity and I say, “It’s Jamie Lee Curtis sexy-sophisticated.” And we are completely sincere.

“And you have the cheekbones for it,” adds CC.

Chemo be damned—you can’t take the inherent femininity out of CC.

Don’t even try.

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2 thoughts on “D-Day: Chemo Begins Part 2

  1. This breaks my heart. Thank God for compassionate nurses and the comaraderie of this horrible “club.” My great-aunt was on dialysis for over ten years and she always talked about how the nurses and other patients could really make a huge difference in how the day went and how close they became. They knew all about her family and vice versa. Sigh.

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