A Surprising Combination: Chemotherapy and Gratitude

Chemo is wrecking me. Shouldn’t be surprising considering my body tends to be sensitive to what I put in it. But with all the docs insisting that chemo isn’t what it used to be, I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard. I’ve learned in the last week that women who get sick during pregnancy (check) tend to get more nauseated with chemo; as do premenopausal women (another check).

I’m learning patterns, though who knows yet that they are, in fact, patterns versus simply what each day brings for now. But it seems that, now that the nausea is subsiding, I feel best in the morning, which is a wonderful relief. On Saturday, the first day that I woke up to this feeling better, I clearly overdid it with the excitement of it all. Family breakfast at the Green Bean, an hour of holiday shopping with Josh while Annie watched the kids, some tidying around the house. By midday I was back in bed where I spent most of the next two days getting more acquainted with my nausea.

Though I haven’t embarked on any other grand outings since Saturday (unless you count the Baystate Cancer Center on Tuesday or the twelve minute walk on the bike path on Monday), the last couple of mornings have been rather lovely; and by midday—after the exertion, perhaps, of a bath; an email, maybe two; fifteen minutes of reading; half an hour of focused time with my children, all of this interspersed with much lying around on the couch or in bed—I am fairly down for the count again.

I’ve had to ask for more help than I’m comfortable with. Though I’ve also had to ask for far less than what continues to be offered, day after day after day.

Because of the intensity of my reaction, it became clear that we really need someone here round the clock by the time I have my next treatment on Monday. Either that or Josh takes a leave from school, which I am hoping he won’t have to do. (Though I have no idea how he carries on with such compassion and focus and grace, leaving at 6 a.m. for what would be one of the most intense rotations on the best of days, thinking, working, caring for people all day long, then coming home to care for me and the kids with yet more compassion and focus and grace.)

So Annie, my godsend of a godmother (I have so many godsends these days), is people holding handscoming back from Hunter Mountain Sunday through Thursday before she flies back to San Francisco for the winter. Jenae, one of my many godsends of a friend, comes up from Brooklyn Thursday through Sunday. My sister-in-law Aimee comes from New Jersey Sunday through Tuesday. And then both of my parents arrive, Tuesday afternoon, for an indefinite amount of time. Phew to all of that. Phew to my amazing village.

Somehow, my spirits are intact, though I can’t say I understand it. Except that what they say about gratitude must be true. It brightens everything. Today I got to play cribbage with Harrison before he went off to be a very happy kid at his friend’s house; and later, when Sophie came home a very happy kid from her playdate, I got to sit with her in my lap in our comfy blue chair and laugh for a good twenty minutes about whatever one laughs about with a six year old. It was a good day.

Today was made possible by three different godsend families. Yesterday, another whole set of three. The day before that…. People just keep coming and offering and taking such care. My spirits are buoyed by gratitude.

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