I sit here after many days, tired from my mind incessantly shouting out different words to spin on to this space, but I resist not due to laziness or indifference but sheer exhaustion. But I fought the urge for far too long so now I sit in front of this blank page of my life, snatching a few precious moments to spit while she battles the life saving drugs they have given her to move forward. The irony is simple but deadly, you need to practically kill yourself to kill the killer inside. In a way, she has to become a murderer of her body parts just so she can live. The traitor must be punished and science has come a long way in battling “This Emperor of All Maladies” (ok so plugging the new book I am reading) but the treatment has victims, not just the one suffering but anyone the patient is close to. I am so used to her smile but glimpses of that are becoming rarer. The dreaded day finally came around when the campaign to save her began. We were told 7 or 9 weeks, depending on which doctor we talked to. So to be quite honest, we are not sure when the campaign will end but one thing was for certain: we had started.
Day 1 not much to report except, she walked in and by the time my mother in law and I sat down to get comfortable, she came out. Only 3 minutes of danger instead of 12 she reported. Instead of coming out in a wheelchair, she walked out confidently, perplexed at our surprised faces. Session 1 out of 28 completed in a mere 90 seconds. The hope that perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad surging in our thoughts and prayers.
“You have such pretty hair” the nurse said, her accent thick from Asia and the smile slightly fake. That made my girl smile, and I brightened up as well since any compliment made her flourish.
“Too bad, you’re going to lose it all.” Our smiles froze, and I don’t think I could have hated a stranger so much so fast. Welcome to Chemotherapy. Where not only will we fill you with toxins, we will try to obliterate your self-esteem as well. Although the word is scary and the side effects well-known, we weren’t prepared with the ease with which they pump the poison and chip away at the cancer.
After a mere 4.5 hours, she was ready to go home and starving. Instead of the stereotypical nausea or vomiting, she was starving and ready to eat Chipotle and she did despite my misgivings (even though I was vastly relieved).
Almost 3 days now, I can say now with confidence that the only thing I am certain of is my fear and prayers that she get through this as painlessly and quickly as possible. The sad reality is that in this quiet house we are in, just the two of us, I feel so utterly alone, I can hardly breathe. The friends and family have been wonderful but as one of my best friends quite bluntly put it: it’s just the two of us, and whether we like it or not, we are in it for the long run. Truth is, I am just scared and so is she. I can’t even imagine her fear or pain, and I wish I could take it on. But the battle has just begun, fear is just an emotion, something the mind just conjures. Some may say its only Day 3 of 7 or 9 weeks, but to me we are already well on our way to get her getting better. And in the end, that’s all that matters.
- Book Review Podcast: ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ (papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com)