People periodically ask me what it's like at the chemo sessions: is there a sense of camraderie or even community they wonder. I think the honest answer to that is no, but there is a sense of solidarity, which is not the same thing, but it is good. I always make a point to smile at people, to say hello and goodbye, to thank the nurses, and usually there is at least one person who appreciates some conversation, especially those on herceptin who are there three-weekly for a year, and often there all day to be monitored. Mostly I am the youngest there by ten to twenty years, though yesterday there was someone three years younger. It would be wrong to say everyone is cheerful or upbeat, some are angry or sullen, some are really not very well, but most are broadly positive and making the most of life. Most of the time we are all women but now and then there are men sharing this particular hill climb.
As it happened, yesterday as well as two people coming to terms with their hair loss there were two on herceptin coming to terms with its re-growth and the curls they hated. One was about six months into regorwth and had what looked like a lovely head of hair, her curls had settled into a gentle wave and what looked like a very expensive cut (it wasn't!). She observed that her husband said she looked great but she wanted her proper hair back, and it was still some way off.
Another feature of the chemo treatment area is the background muzak... some end-to-end FM 'gold' station that plays songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s; I guess the eras of most of the patients. Yesterday among the many familiar tunes was this from Eric Clapton...
It's late in the evening; she's wondering what clothes to wear.
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, "Do I look all right?"
And I say, "Yes, you look wonderful tonight."
We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that's walking around with me.
And then she asks me, "Do you feel all right?"
And I say, "Yes, I feel wonderful tonight."
I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes.
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don't realize how much I love you.
It's time to go home now and I've got an aching head,
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.
And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, "My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight."
In the wee small hours when St Eroid did his worst, I found myself palgiarising it shamelessy as I reflected on the day and the journey up Mount Chemo so far. Not saying which bits are about me and which are observations of others.
Wonderful Travelling Companions
First thing in the morning, she's wondering what clothes to wear,
Slaps on the E45, covers her hairless head,
And as she wonders, 'do I look alright?"
A voice whispers, 'yes, you are wonderful today.'
She goes for her treatment, people look up to see
This beautiful person, sharing the chemo journey
And as her face says, 'will it be alright'
A nurse smiles, 'yes, you are wonderful today.'
It is wonderful because we all see
The courage in your eyes
And the wonder of it all
Is that you just 'do what you do because you're you'
It's time to go home now, with a bag full of pills
Walking or driving, flopping or bed
And now I tell you, as I lie in the dark:
My sisters (and occasional brother) - 'we're all wonderful tonight.'
'My travelling companions, you are wonderful tonight.'