We learn so much from those around us. I love watching people. As I settled into the recliner for my first round of chemotherapy, I just couldn’t wait to get started. Finally, an action step directed towards battling the lung cancer! I did not expect to leave my first chemotherapy session with a keen appreciation for so many. Lessons from the infusion room.
The treatment experience is personalized. You walk in and the nursing staff knows your story. They have studied all the evidence regarding your case. First lesson: everyone wants to feel like those who are important in their life know their story. You are much more than a name on the schedule. You are a person who requires personalized care that is carefully monitored. I had a wonderful nurse, Deanna, who patiently listened to my list of questions, provided me with clear explanations every step of the way, and left me with a packet of written material that I have already referred to on several occasions. My mind can only absorb so much at one time, and there is a lot to learn about cancer treatments.
My chemotherapy session took the following path: first, lab work was completed to help the staff make final decisions on how my body will respond to the amount of chemotherapy scheduled for the infusion; next, two different nausea medications were administered (this helped to put my mind at ease); finally, two different chemotherapy medications were administered. In my case, I received Alimta and Carboplatin. They are both used to treat advanced lung cancer. We will work through three rounds of treatments and then complete a PET scan to see if tumors are shrinking.
As I settled into the infusion routine, I began to watch and listen to patients around me. Second lesson: patients lift and serve those around them even during difficult days. I watched as a seasoned cancer patient reassured a young woman who was there for her first treatment. This young patient was worried about an upcoming procedure to insert a port into her chest. The seasoned patient talked her through the process and answered her many questions. I loved the seasoned patient’s example of recognizing a service opportunity and gently finding a way to minister. These two women became friends, laughed together, and shed a few tears. The young woman has a very difficult chemo schedule. I marveled at the tenderness that women bring as they share their light with others The seasoned patient confidently brought her light, wisdom and courage — bald head and all. I said a quiet prayer for both of these women. Other patients in the room modeled how to make yourself comfortable, the importance of a family and friend support system during treatment, and a fierce determination to fight! We all have an individualized plan that is connected through a common thread of courage.
Finally, I was carried by the united prayer, faith and hope of so many. Third lesson: faith and hope help us remember the Savior is the Redeemer of our soul. Through His atonement, he will make us whole. I wish I could personally thank each individual who has reached out, sent cards, written beautiful messages on this blog and other social media, organized prayers and fasting in their community, and written beautiful prayers that sound like hymns. Just yesterday, I received an email from one of the principals I work closely with. Her community has been in contact with her. They want to pray and fast for me. I do not know them all individually, but they know I love and work hard for their children. Tears flooded my eyes as I pictured a humble congregation praying in my behalf. I have countless stories like this one. I am not sure there has been a time in my life where the atonement has increased my capacity to appreciate, cherish, and love the faith of so many in such a way as I do now. Your faith increases my hope and courage.
And so, I end with the words to a beautiful hymn that have been ringing through my mind: