Last week I had another chemo therapy session; I think this was 39 or 40…I can’t seem to keep track anymore. Anyways, it was on a Tuesday and I had to be there at 1:00 p.m. so the one thing I wanted to do that morning before chemo was, of course, YOGA!
I made plans with my beloved teacher to take the full Primary Series class of Ashtanga yoga which was taught that day by her beloved teacher.
The Primary series of Ashtanga yoga is pretty serious stuff. As in, a really hard and sweaty practice which was just what I needed for my mind and body to fortify me for chemo later. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. to attend this early class and with my teacher as my guide we practiced that morning together and then sat with a room full of yogis to sing the Hanuman Chalisa: a devotional hymn that is sang to the Hindu god Hanuman; a deity revered for his qualities of strength, courage and wisdom.
To be able to complete that difficult practice with my teacher and her teacher was so special to me. The love for the practice of yoga and the love for each other as human beings was palpable in the room. I was undone with emotion.
Afterwards, I was starving!!! This is my normal state after yoga so off to eat we went, my teacher and I. At the organic market (of course it's organic, LOL) we got juices and made sure to pick up some food for later in the day. For my teacher she needed the food to get her through a busy day of teaching and for me, I needed the food for the chemo chair. Sometimes spicy food helps hide the chemo taste in my mouth.
We loaded up her car with our juices and food, sweaty towels and yoga mats. We were heading back towards her house and as she drove along the mood shifted. We both knew what was happening in a few hours as I stared out the passenger window remarking on the beauty of the day while holding back the tears. "Stay in the Now" became my mantra as I tried not to let thoughts of chemo ruin our wonderful morning together. I squeezed those thoughts out of my mind as I let the beauty of the green hills and blue sky enter my senses and brighten my demeaner.
"Stay in the Now, stay in the Now, stay in the Now"…the Now is all we ever really have and so I stayed. At a red light she reached over and squeezed my hand giving me a loving smile. I looked over at her and smiled back. I stayed in the Now as the longing for my previously healthy life ached inside of me. I stayed.
The bummer part of being in the Now is when the Now involves sitting in a chemo chair.
I went home to meet my husband for our hour long drive to chemo. Once again I look out a car window at the view; this time it’s the ocean and it’s so pretty that it hurts my eyes. Every mile down the road brings me closer to Cancerland.
Living in the Now is so hard sometimes.
We don’t talk much on the ride to Cancerland and at the freeway off ramp he reaches over and squeezes my hand. I look over and see him; my partner in all of this. What he has had to witness and endure is probably more awful than having cancer yourself. That day of chemo he had the job of icing my hands and feet for ninety minutes while I cried begging him over and over to stop.
"Baby you don’t want to get the blisters do you?" he tries to reason with me. "More Ativan please," he asks the nurse for mercy to try and ease my suffering.
Who is going to ease his suffering?
Cancerland is a pretty fancy place. I say it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. We pull up the driveway to the Valet parking passing my surgeon on the way in. I watch through the window as he purposefully strides down the walkway, his white coat flapping behind him. My husband honks the horn and the doctor with his five Residents in tow all turn their heads to see us and wave. I shrink down a little in my seat with embarrassment.
"Why did you do that?" I ask my husband. "He doesn’t even know it’s me" I say as I feel my cheeks get warm. I don’t know why I am so shy to see him. Maybe it’s because it is outside of the office, outside of the hospital, out in real life. It is strange to see him outside the walls of Cancerland knowing that he has cut me wide open and seen the inside of me.
This was the beginning of a chemo day...please come back next month to our newsletter to continue reading about adventures in Cancerland.
With so much Love,