The Chemo Lab

(Dictated by Dru to Art)

 

In one way the chemo clinic at Scripps Green Cancer Center is like Ruth’s Chris steakhouse downtown on San Diego’s marina: There’s not a bad table in the house. Everyone’s gets a view of either the Torrey Pines Golf Course, groves of Torrey Pines, or the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes one glimpses a hang-glider, like a red or yellow petal cast in the breeze. Of course, there are some differences: recliners and gurney-style beds, not tables; no steaks with slathered mash potatoes; the help wears cute scrubs, not crisp tuxedo shirts. But each nurse and aide at Green would beat out the wait-staff at Chris for my tips any day.

 

Like almost every person I’ve dealt with since I entered the ranks of the afflicted, I’ve found the staff at Scripps Green exemplary. They’re always willing to explain— even unto the third or fourth time— the incredibly complicated directions for taking a myriad of pills, when, and why on the days before during and after chemo therapy.

 

It helped to have an orientation session before my first treatment. A nurse from Green walked me through each step of my first day, so that when I returned for my premier treatment much of the strangeness of the place was gone. That alone I found of great comfort because the prospect of having hanging bags of chemicals with names like “carboplatin” and “alimta” shot into my veins was terrifying. Radiation treatment had frightened me, too, but not the same way. Having deadly chemicals injected into my body through hollow needles goes so against the social norm that it wasn’t a stretch to imagine federal narcs pounding at the door. Well, maybe a little stretch.

 

At Green’s chemo clinic everything’s done to make you comfortable. There’s a vast selection for reading, from trashy gossip mags to up-scale ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST and VOGUE (though not one novel by Drusilla Campbell). Every item is tucked away on its own shelf. The drinking water is excellent and so are the hard candies. There’s a microwave and a refrigerator, and each station has a television with earphones.

 

Some people come to the cancer clinic for five or six hours a day or a week; some come, as I do, for a couple hours every three weeks. I observe that some among us appear to be very ill and to have been visiting the clinic a long time. For them, I suppose, the place has lost its novelty, and its comforts go largely unnoticed. For me, though, and the friends and family who faithfully accompany me, it’s a place of life-extending optimism.

 

I woke up this morning, feeling more like my old self than I have in many weeks. It was as if I’d taken in more than chemicals with that needle. I’d also absorbed a strong dose of hope.

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6 Responses to “The Chemo Lab”

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  1. Jessica North says:

    Hope! Oh glory, hope! Along with chemicals. How good to hear. You felt some hope. Green is in a lovely spot on our planet. You are precious. And, we are all carrying your hope on wings of Grace this week.

  2. Roger Butler says:

    Hope was all we ever had, even from the beginning. I pray that you never lose it. I pray also that none of those I love ever lose it (including me).

  3. Steve Sporleder says:

    Hi Dru,
    Your experience at the infusion center was just like mine. Until I got there, I’d been kicked in the knee at every appointment. My orientation was calming and the tour of the infusion center very enlightening. People were so sick and trying to find a position of comfort. They reminded me of Ray Charles sitting at the piano rocking out a tune and gyrating all over his bench. But they were getting well!
    My chemo drugs were carboplatin and u(a)limta. I hope you have as much success with them as I did.
    I saw Betty Chase yesterday (Sat) and she said she was going to visit you.Have a blast.
    I’m so happy you are feeling better and that you stay positive. Having family and friends around is a tremendous boost. The power of prayer can not be underestimated either.
    I needed to wrap my arms around living instead of wrapping them around dying; the best advise I ever received. Try it.
    All my love and prayers are with you, and don’t be afraid to go toe to toe with the cancer bitch. God is bigger than her.
    Stay well,
    Steve Sporleder

  4. So lovely to hear this good report about your helpers and healers. And hope, yes!

  5. Kate says:

    Hi Dru,

    Still with you. So happy to read that you had a really good day. Also glad to know you have a tribe accompanying you.

    Much love to you,

    Kate

  6. Allison Harnden says:

    Dru,

    There are wonders in every moment, if only we look. Your writer’s eye is serving you well, as is your Norcal roots.

    Love, love love hearing your voice over Cancer’s

    Allison

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