The brave smile
If I had to pick one unifying characteristic that would describe new patients in the Chemo Room, it would have to be the brave smile.
There are other telltale signs: multiple family members present, deer-in-headlights glaze in their eyes, a full head of hair, and an aura of disbelief. But it is the brave smile that the newbies all have in common. The first session in the Chemo Room is a rite of passage as a chemo patient. It means that you have already passed through The Suspicion, The Diagnosis, The Logistics, The Testing, and The Planning. There is a sense of, “Finally, we made it,” upon entrance to the Chemo Room.
We get to fight.
We get to kill cancer.
We get to live.
I counter their brave smile with my confident one. “I did this,” I say gesturing to the drugs, the IV pole, the warm blankets. “You can do it too.”
And then, inevitably, the brave smile morphs into genuine laughter, and we share names, and stories, and ourselves. I meet people in all walks of life, who are not living a life interrupted by cancer. They are living their life with cancer. They are not mutually exclusive; they are inseparable.
I think that if every person started their week by spending an hour in a recliner next to a stranger who is receiving chemotherapy treatments, the world would be a kinder place. I know it has made me a better person. Every Monday Herceptin drips into my veins and goodness seeps into my soul; I hope I Do Today Well and pay it forward.
I am so grateful for this life and for my many blessings.
Blessings to you this week, too.