This morning my sister started Chemo. It just bends my mind in 50 different directions every time I think about it. The one thing I have been dreading the thought of happening my entire life has come to pass.
I got up this morning and called my mom straight away. She was taking Linda to her treatment, so I wanted to know where I was going, who I needed to talk to and get the procedural stuff ingrained in my brain so I’d have a good idea what was going to happen. My plan all along was to be there with her for the treatments. I want to be there for her to cheer her up, entertain her, support her and just make sure she knows that she’s not alone. However, it wasn’t like we thought it would be.
When I arrived at the Cancer Center, I went up to the third floor and spoke to the receptionist. I said, “Hi, my sister is here getting her treatment and I’d really like to see her.” The receptionist looked at me and said, “Who’s your sister?” I smiled and pointed at what was written on my T-shirt. “Linda’s Care Crew”, which on the back says “I’m helping my sister kick breast cancer’s butt.” The receptionist laughed and pointed at the entrance door and buzzed me in.
The room Linda takes her treatments in is relatively small and intimate, however it is wide open and fairly spacious. There are large windows that look out onto the city and the mountains, the chairs the patients sit in are beautiful brown leather recliners but, you still know you’re in a medical environment because of the fact that the IV’s that hold the treatments are right next to the chairs and the rest of the space is very medically devoted. But, being that it’s that small, there’s only one person that could stay with her the entire time. That person today would be my mother. The nurses shooed my dad out early on because there’s not enough room for more than one person to hang out. Our visits had to be brief, but Mom could stay which was a good thing.
I walked up to where Nan was hooked up to her IV’s and such. My heart broke into a thousand pieces. But, I walked up to her with a big smile on my face and said, “Like my T-Shirt?” You could see the tears well up in her eyes behind the laugh and the smile she gave me. I thought to myself “Mission Accomplished”. The whole point of my t-shirt was to show her that I’m telling the whole world I support her. Mom even laughed at my shirt too. They thought it was pretty cool, or at least, that’s what they told me. The nurses looked at it and thought it was wonderful. So, much less to say, my choice of apparel was just what I wanted it to be, uplifting.
To see my sister sitting there all hooked up to those IV’s tore my heart out. She’s been through so much. It’s just not fair. But, the most remarkable thing I saw today was when she got up and had to go to the bathroom. She had all sorts of blankets and pillows on her lap and well, it looked like a bunch of stuff to move, so Mom and I sprung to our feet to help her. Linda would have none of it. She said, “I gotta do this myself. I know y’all want to help, but I want to and have to do this on my own.” There she is, her body has been through more trauma than anyone should take, she’s hooked up to chemotherapy IV’s and she’s telling everyone that she doesn’t want to be babied. That woman is so strong! She told tales of how her boyfriend tried to help her dress after her double mastectomy and she wouldn’t have that either, she said the activity helped her get well faster because, yes, it hurt, but she was able to lift her arms sooner. I can understand her need to control as much as possible around her right now. I mean, she’s had a hysterectomy, a double mastectomy and now she’s in Chemo. I mean, how much is one person supposed to take? So for her to want to stand on her own two feet despite all of the crap that’s happened to her…damn, she’s a strong one. That’s why I think she’ll beat the cancer. She’s too stubborn to let it win. Let’s just hope her DNA agrees.
Ok, so why is she in Chemo? Nan is what’s called “HER 2 Positive”. HER 2 is a gene that’s gone and mutated on her. Being HER 2 positive means that the likelihood of the cancer coming back is greater. Kicker is, only 25% of people on the PLANET are HER 2 positive. What’s the odds? OMG. So, the doctor told her, “you can wait 5 years and see if it comes back, or you can get aggressive and opt for chemo”. And, to Chemo she went, she’s not giving the cancer a chance to come back.
So, there I am, standing in the cancer center watching my sister take her treatment. They put the IV into her hand and she sat there from 10am until when I got there at 1:30pm, then Mom said they’d be there until at least 5pm. 7 hours of them pouring medicine into her veins to attack a rogue gene.
While I was there, they showed my pictures of Nan going to try on wigs at a place that specializes in wigs for cancer patients. Yep, the one most heartwrenching things for me to see. I nearly crumbled, but I held strong. One picture they showed me was pretty funny. She had on a wig that was my hairstyle. Mom said it was spooky how much we looked alike. I pointed to the photo laughed and said, “Yeah! I like that one! You look like me!” They also showed me ones she tried on that were short, medium length and some that were long. They all looked beautiful on her. Linda told me about her trip to try on wigs yesterday on the phone, she told me that the wig place will shave her head for her (it took me 2 hours to stop crying after I hung up the phone after I heard that) and they’ll also supply her with headwraps to sleep in and other things to help her cope.
I had to leave the Cancer Center at 2pm to be in class at 2:30. As I went to leave, I broke a little bit as I hugged her, kissed her hand and told her she was my hero and how proud of her I was. You know, I might not agree with her all the time, I might get mad at her or have that sibling rivalry thing sometimes, but you know, I would trade places with her in a heartbeat so she wouldn’t have to hurt. That she wouldn’t have to say it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes because of her mastectomy. It just breaks my heart into thousands of pieces to see her like that, but her tenacity is amazing. She just will not let it get her down. She’s got to be one of the strongest women I’ve ever met. She was my childhood idol, now she’s my adult one too.
Linda = Strength