Numbers and a Ringing Bell | Chemo #5 recap

Numbers.
Today they were low.
Which meant the chemo almost didn't happen.
Dad's white blood cells dropped below
the usual cut-off of 1.5
coming in at a 1.4,
but they made the exception
and let him go ahead with
today's chemo cocktail.

We were super grateful for that,
as we really want this first 3 months
behind us,
so Dad can get re-tested
to see what's going on in his body.
The kids did great today
and took everything in stride.

After initialing seeing Dad,
Jackson and I wandered out to the waiting room.
I asked how he was doing and he offered,
"Well, I know that everyone will
go to a hospital some day,
because we all have to die,
but it's just hard to see Grandpa in a hospital."
You're right,
little buddy,
it is hard to see Grandpa in the hospital.

I was, however, surprised
again today
at the cheeriness of the chemo room.
In my head,
when the "C" word is given,
and chemotherapy is the medicine of choice,
it just seems like
the mood would be set as dreaded and dreary.

But twice now
I've experienced the opposite.
I sure wish I could take pictures of the whole room,
and the other patients,
but alas,
that's simply not allowed.
Something about privacy and lawsuits.
Whatever.
But perhaps I can paint you a picture with words.
A room no bigger than some of your suburb family rooms.
8 patients,
some with hair,
some without.
Some quite talkative,
others not.
Some working away on Sudoku puzzles
while others read their novels,
and catch up on social media accounts.

6 patients in big green chairs,
2 in hospital beds.
3 nurses fluttering about,
working their magic,
juggling charts and meds and smiles.

8 machines beeping;
off-key and out-of-sync,
but all necessary noise.

1 doctor swiveling on an office chair,
sliding by to visit each patient,
hearing the latest highs and lows,
chatting through today's plan.

There's the cute lady in the corner,
whose hair is gone
being replaced
by the most darling
pink ruffled handkerchief I've ever seen.

And there was the jovial guy
who's gonna beat this cancer thing
with a good attitude.
Period!
He walked in,
someone asked how he was doing,
and he loudly declared,
alongside a chuckle,
"I'm two thumbs up,
and if I had a third thumb,
it'd be up, too!"

He laughed and joked and teased
and was an absolute delight.
Every chemo room needs a guy like that!
Dad's positive attitude
rubbed off on others, too.
He spent time
reading Tim Keller's book
on suffering and pain
(which, by the way,
he says is the best book he's ever
read on the subject.
And let's not even start
talking about how many books
my dad has read in his lifetime.
Easily in the thousands.)

I read Dad little snippets of
what people were saying
on the Facebook thread,
and that cheered him up.
The kids and Mum arrived
and we generally visited
the hours away.

Then there was the lady next to him,
in the light pink zip-up sweatshirt.
She came alone,
which seems so so sad to me,
but that didn't phase her one little bit.
(Actually, 4 of the 8 patients were there alone
so I guess it's okay?
For the record,
if I ever have to go to the chemo chair,
I do not want to be alone.)

It seemed she's rather familiar with this entire routine,
and after a 2 1/2 year battle,
today was her LAST day of chemo.
That's a big deal folks.

Several hours into our day,
while Jackson and I were hangin'
 in the waiting room,
we heard the bell ring
and I absolutely knew what it was:
her victory ring.

And as she walked out of that room,
and down the hall toward us,
I do believe there was a special lightness about her,
knowing that
-- hopefully never again --
will she have to sit in the green chemo chair.

I'll have you know,
it took EVERY ounce of self-control
to not run up to this complete stranger,
pick her off her feet,
and twirl her around in delight.
Her LAST day of chemo.
Oh what a day!

I couldn't help but muster up some
extra doses of hope that
someday,
Dad will get to
ring that bell, too.
And you better believe
there will be photos celebrating that
milestone.
No privacy on THAT day!
And so we march on.
Hoping
and
praying
that the chemo is doing what it's supposed
to do to the cancer cells,
and not doing what it probably is doing,
to his good cells.

I'll leave you with this:

When Dad arrives for chemo every other Monday,
he's asked a long list of questions,
one of which is this:
"Do you feel like you have a good support system
of family and friends?"

To which he graciously answers
with a resounding
YES.

We feel your support.
We know we are loved.
We are grateful for every one of you that
has sent a card,
written a text,
placed a phone call,
said something on Facebook.

We know the support is literally
world-wide.
And we don't take that for granted.
This much I know.
God's still good.
And always will be!

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