Love at first DM
This first chemo session would be the first and last time I would leave home without my “War Paint”. This whole process, especially now has been like a mental boot camp. Preparing for it. Exercising my mind and emotions daily trying to make sure I’m ready for combat. Now the day has come to see what I’m made of and my only goal is to go in and fuck.shit.up.
The nurses and docs have painted a picture that makes me feel like since I am young, I’ll be hopping over walls and crawling under barbed wire that is chemotherapy (and it’s side affects) with ease. I’m usually a skeptic of most things. But in this case, I want to believe what they have been telling me. It’s only going to suck a little because I’ve got my youth on my side. Yep. Consider this shit handled.
Everyone keeps saying it's going to be a long ass day. I have braced myself for 6-8 hours at the hospital. A full ass work day. But is it sad to say I’d rather be doing this than being at work? Eek.
The most anxiety I feel right now is about this needle going inside of my port. I've got numbing cream of course but liiiike...how big is this needle? My port is in my shoulder blade. That shit is not super meaty. Damnit. Why didn't I research that part? Ah well. It's "go" time. MJ and I add the final contents to my chemo bag. I am ready! 6:45am is our check-in time. We grab my chemo bag and our coats like I'm in labor. That would actually be the ideal scenario. But instead, we are in a rush to kill whatever leftover cancer cells may be hiding inside of me. And it's going to take several hours to start.
It's 6:15 am when we head out. The crisp morning air gives me a little pep talk as it gently smacks me out of my trance. Fear is what it is. We head over to MJ’s, Jeep and he opens the door for me and walks quickly over to his side. As usual, I strap in and take out my phone. It's only a 20-minute ride and I don't want to talk. There is too much going on in my head. All of this fear of the unknown. Even with all of the research of what to expect...I’m still sad. Research really doesn't do a damn thing for anyone in the end because everyone is different. There are soooooo many potential side effects. I can't get all of them. Or can I?
I do what I normally do when I'm nervous or bored or any other range of emotions; I check Instagram. I start searching hashtags #breastcancer and #breastcancerawareness. There are so many women sharing their story, showing their scars and smiling through the sadness behind their eyes. You ever look at a picture and see the pain in someone's eyes even though they’re smiling? Yes, lots of that. Some of these brave women will end up being part of my cancer community. And one of them an actual friend, friend. I scroll through all of the Hailey’s and Janet’s and come across a black woman whose story I’d quickly read once before. Her story was different than the rest though. She’d gotten diagnosed while pregnant. She appears confident, full of light and power. All of the things I feel like are slipping away slowly from me. I have got to reach out to her.
The bravery that it must have taken to share her story so openly and honestly is astonishing. Well, here she is again, back in my sights. One of just a sprinkle of women who look like me. Oh shit, she got treated in Baltimore? That means she lives in my area! Should I slide in her DM’s and tell her how scared I am? That would be weird huh?
Well, I guess I'll be a weirdo because this woman looks like she kicks ass for a living and I need that vibe right now. I take a deep breath and start typing.
”Hi. I'm Jen. Today is my first chemo and I am so scared. Is this needle going to hurt going in my port? ”
Oh God! Why did I do that?! She is going to think I'm a weirdo! She probably won’t even respond!
3 minutes later
“Today is your first round of chemo? Today is the easy part! It's scary I know but don't worry today. They're going to give you Benadryl that's going to knock you OUT. It will be a wonderful sleep! I will be around all day. Text or call me if you need me. Xxx-xxx-xxxx. I’m Shonni.”
Omg! She responded! It’s not even 7am! What a weirdo! She wants me to text her?! And say what?! Omg, what if she's a crazy lunatic trying to kill me!?
Ok. Calm TF down. She is basically YOU. This is some shit you would do. Be a super, almost creepily nice person to a perfect stranger. Just text her.
“Hi, it's @jennypenz. Well, Jennifer. I'm so nervous about the needle going into my port. Is it going to hurt?”
“Well, hopefully you have your numbing cream. If you have that on, you won't feel a thing. Just take a deep breath and you'll be all good. The only thing that will suck about today is just that it will be long. But I will be here on standby if you need me. You know that you can't get rid of me now right? We are now friends for life.”
Omg. This is slightly weird but also comforting. Is this going to be my cancer bestie?!?!?!
2 minutes later, we were pulling into the parking garage of Anne Arundel Medical Center.
Round 1 coming right up!
Look at this beautiful woman! Do you see all of the power this woman exudes in this photo?! That is the very reason I contacted her and I am so damn happy that I did. It was the best decision I made during my cancer journey. More about this courageous, fierce, amazing, hilarious, woman and her breast cancer journey, HERE.
I LOVE YOU SHONNI!!!