On Friday, I had the pleasure of sitting with my mother-in-law while she was injected intravenously with a cocktail of poisons. This was the second time this month I have been on chemo duty—and happy to do it—no one should have to sit there alone.
This wasn’t new to me; I had been to the infusion center before, although it had been several years. The first time I went, I’ll admit I was a little spooked. Sick people all desperate for hope looking half alive as they are pumped full of drugs while sprawled out in their recliners. By now, tho, I’m sorry to say I’m “used” to it.
Cancer centers are spooky!
The only thing spooky about the cancer center is the actual building itself. For the number of people in America fighting this awful disease, they sure aren’t going out of their way to make the experience comfortable. This particular room was depressing.
Puke green walls, not one single picture, not ONE! Ugly curtains are separating dating recliners: sterile, alcohol smell, and an offering of snacks not at all healthy for a cancer patient. I don’t remember the doctor ordering Doritos or Hostess cupcakes as part of a healthy diet! Pretty disappointing considering that most of the people are spending hours a week in these places.
I mean, could they get one pleasant photo on the wall? Maybe one of the wall plaques with words of encouragement? How about a plant?—(I realize the scent of flowers might make some queasy.) And how about some soothing music like you hear at the spa.
Make it a Spa experience
Heck, why not make it a whole spa experience?! Is the half a million dollars you spend on cancer care worth a little comfort? And how about some superfoods in the kitchen? Fresh fruit, whole wheat bread, maybe some nuts?
I do realize that a lot of what they do have at the cancer center is donated. So the offerings of fresh donuts brought in by a nice younger woman are appreciated. And the good news is that I hear many places, like the “Retirement Ville,” a small town my parents live in, are updating their infusion centers. (Let’s hope my parents never get the joy of visiting there.)
They take good care of you
BUT…as disappointing as the setting is at the cancer center; the people are an entirely different story. I was amazed at the camaraderie that comes with being among others in your position. Something changes with people when they walk through the door. All of life’s little imperfections don’t seem to matter.
You talk with people and get to know them intimately, even those you would never have approached outside. People have so much compassion for each other. There is an understanding among the patients and the family members- that they are in this together. The bonds that are created are quite astounding.
The nurses are awesome!
The nurses, too, play a fantastic role in treating and caring for the patients and family members. I am always amazed at how these nurses can do this job day after day.
He was watching people deal with the pain, physically and emotionally. Listening to people groan and watching them get sick, then cleaning up after them all the while being respectful and patient. God bless all of the nurses of the world—especially those who work in Oncology.
And so the experience of chemotherapy is far from fun, but your attitude can make a world of difference. My mother-in-law never complains. They poke her and prod her, make her wait endlessly, and miss the veins a million times—but she never complains.
I can see that she sees life a little differently now. It time to enjoy every minute. So we laugh and talk and then after she takes me to Avenue Bread for lunch. And so chemo day isn’t so bad after all. Read our article on Lung cancer here.