Yesterday was day one of chemotherapy. I will receive three drugs, all on one day, every three weeks for six cycles. The infusion center I am using for the treatment is located in my oncologist’s office. When Peggy and I arrived we followed the signs to its temporary location in the basement while the regular center is being remodeled. There is something about descending to the lower levels, to a windowless room lined with recliners and iv poles, that reminds me of the belly of the whale where Jonah spent three days. That story happens to have been the reading for Mass on Monday, October 5. He ended up there because he fled from his prophetic calling. How many of us are equally reluctant to accept what we know God is asking us to do?
Jonah is a good companion for this new beginning of therapy for recurrent ovarian cancer. I have had many moments of reluctance to accept what God is asking of me. But in the end I am wanting to do what Mother Theresa recommends: “Give what God asks and receive what God gives, with a smile.” And I am not alone, neither in the belly of the whale nor when spewed up on the shore.
When I woke from my many little naps during the six hours I was receiving treatment, I saw that the other eleven recliners were filled and vacated by a steady stream of co-journeyers. Almost everyone but me was familiar to the nurses and the routine. From frail to robust, each one of us was seeking a return to wholeness in this small basement room.
Gratitude is the best medicine of all. It was what flowed into me as I drifted off to sleep with the pre-medication before receiving the chemotherapy. How grateful I am to be able to receive this treatment! How grateful for the loving community, family and friends who have been praying with and for me during the waiting time and who continue to this moment, lifting me up to God!
The second time around is less anxious. I know what to expect and how to be ready for it. I am taking it easy, letting the medicine do what it needs to do and allowing for the consequences that aren’t so pleasant. I have a lovely place to let this be a healing time for me.
I will be sharing this journey with those who would like to keep me company this way. I look forward to your comments and reflections. I learned the last time that people benefited not just from what I wrote but from what was shared by others. And so let us begin again!