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The morning was golden. There was a golden glaze on the river, golden glints on the George Washington Bridge, and the stalagmites called Manhattan were glistening. I had sun and a smile on my face. This was the morning of my last chemo infusion. I would be done with the hardest part of the cancer treatments after this day.

Along with my bag full of chemo props, I carried an arm full of red roses to the hospital to say thank you and goodbye to the folks of the 9th floor infusion ward. It was the 4th round, the fourth element of water, and it had occurred to me that water is a symbol for emotions, but I did not anticipate any teary goodbyes. I liked everyone on the 9th floor alright and was grateful for their participation in saving my life; however, I had no grief about parting ways. Nope. None. On that golden August day I only had my eye on the end point; and, so, I was totally unprepared for the white waters that lay ahead.

The Universe knew that I would need help though.

There was only one other couple in the oncology waiting area when I arrived for my pre-infusion check-up. While Reade, my husband, and I chatted and scanned the newspaper, I noticed that this couple was looking at me. She was a lovely Asian and her male companion was Asian too and, as they glanced in my direction, they exchanged words in their native tongue as if they were whispering behind cupped hands. They were talking about me; and, given her full head of glossy black Asian hair, I guessed that they were intrigued by my bald head. I sensed that she was curious and wanted to talk with me, so I looked at her and smiled. No sooner did the upturned corners of my mouth lift my cheeks, then Anna rushed over to introduce herself. Indeed, she was curious – today was Anna’s first infusion day.

Just as the angel in the auburn wig (last paragraphs of this former post)  was there for me when I was scared about stepping onto the chemo track, I could now be there for Anna. I could pay it forward. I could tell her about lemon & ginger water and assure her that the nausea is manageable and give her a general overall pep talk. I could tell her about the choices that worked for me like the preemptive shaving of my head and how baseball caps were less scratchy than wigs. I could say, “It wasn’t so bad. People cared for me on my down days, but mostly I walked slowly and really paid attention to flowers;” and then, I could hand her a long-stemmed red bud.

We hugged.

And as I moved from station to station that morning – from check-up room to blood lab to doctor’s office – I’d see Anna and her companion, clinging to each other, seeming anxious, and she’d be clutching her rose. Then, when I was finally assigned an infusion chair, and at long last on the west side with the Hudson river views which thrilled me since the element for the fourth round was water, as Fate would have it, Anna was assigned the chair right next to me.

So, when there was a two hour delay as the wonderful singing nurse named Jennifer, through no fault of her own, blew two of my veins and then couldn’t find a vein that wasn’t collapsed so there was an imminent threat that I was going to be sent home, I didn’t panic for Anna’s sake. And, when Jennifer finally hooked me up and the needle hurt, I didn’t grimace, and when another allergic reaction to the adriamycin  swelled me up, turned my eyes bright red, and made me think I was dying until the benedryl shot knocked me out, I didn’t fret out loud. I stayed strong for the entire fourth and final round for Anna.

Anna and I exchanged a few emails in the months to come in which she repeatedly thanked me for the pep talk and the rose, and I tried to convey to her that I did nothing but embrace a gift. And, now, when I reflect, I don’t dwell on how painful and terrifying the experience was, I think only of the infinite wisdom of the Universe that knew that I needed to be somebody’s angel for a day.

In awe,

L.

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There’s a little pink-striped book from The Libby Ross Foundation Pink Ribbon Kit called a Journal & Sketch Book that I carried in my pocketbook at all times to scribble in as needed after I gave up the little brown serious journal for the large black unlined journal that I kept at home. The scribbling I did in the days prior to the first transfusion was done in this portable pink book as I had shpilkes that kept me on the move. Since I wasn’t sitting still much, there isn’t much from that time period except for one comprehensive entry from a writing date with my husband. His presence anchored me, and I’m so grateful for that because I now have these notes from that precious time period.

Prelude to Chemo – July 11, 2009

Sitting on a footstool at Barnes & Noble staring at the New Age bookshelves wondering what I need to read next? What will help me now? None of the books seemed appealing though. I felt satiated with self help and spiritual manuals. Really I just wanted escapist fiction. And yet I was drawn to this section of the bookstore and plopped down on that footstool, so, I sat. Thinking. There must be more to learn, more to remember. Perhaps I could re-read all I’ve read before, I thought. It must be 25 years since I devoured Jane Roberts’ Seth books and Edgar Casey and Ruth Montgomery; however, I didn’t stand up to reach for Seth Speaks. I just sat and thought with frustration mounting as I beseeched my spirit guides to help me: won’t you please knock a book off the shelf and make it obvious. I recalled that my sister Brenda in a psychic reading said that I had a new guide,  a Mayan with a nice butt, so I considered a 2012 primer for a few laughs. But, honestly, no book called to me. I sat on that footstool in a trance.

“Excuse me.”

I looked up, perplexed. There was plenty of room in the aisle; but, the short, dark-haired woman with the slightly crossed eyes was motioning to move past me to look at the shelves to my right. I determined that she was being polite, smiled, and then we both went about our business. A minute later, she returned, knelt beside me and asked if I had seen the book Reconnect.

“Perhaps Customer Service can help you,” I said and gestured toward the center of the store.

But, she stayed crouched beside me and in a whisper suitable for libraries told me that the book by Eric Pearl was about Reiki. I smiled again and kept smiling with a skin tingling recognition that the book I wanted to fall off the shelf was standing before me in the flesh as this stranger went on about her path and her belief in energy healing. I told her that I had similar experiences and when I mentioned Julie Connor, she knew of Julie and the Reiki Share group. She explained that I could do Reiki to myself and told me to pray, “In God, with God, for God,” saying that I need only ask to be healed and my hands will move and show the way. “You only need to believe,” she said.

Since I got the word from my doctors, I’ve been thinking about the need for support for my chemo experience and there are so many opinions, approaches, alternative methods.

My friend Jill tells of various vitamins and foods. She has so much information that sounds like so much effort to procure and prepare that my mind tends to become porous when she talks. In our last conversation, I retained one word: Gingko to help with fatigue.

Then the Susun Weed book (Breast Cancer? Breast Health – The Wise Woman Way) told about nettle, comfrey, milk thistle, etc etc etc, and I would read her book more  thoroughly except she scares me. Her supremely judgmental tone about the toxicity and the damage that chemo can cause provokes fear, and fear of chemo will not serve me. Supreme faith will serve me.

Also, Lisa Orlando, the lovely woman offering the Cancerland seminar re. navigating the medical system, recommended acupuncture as did others.

So, there’s enough to boggle the mind.

Thus I chant: What I need will come to me. All I need will be told to me. And the means will always be made easy.

And then a cross-eyed angel appears.

In awe & gratitude,

L.

 

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