Several readers have requested that this bit of information be re-posted, so here it is:
When I see anything that resembles red Kool-aid, my hair trembles. Adriamycin, better known in my circle of chemo-friends as The Red Devil, was pumped into my body for several months. Along with another cell-killer, Cytoxan. When all the docs determined that I had no choice but to receive massive dosages of chemotheraphy, I began researching all the ways to keep one's hair from falling off one's head. One bit of advice was to let ice packs sit on one's head until one's brain froze. So, at the first visit with my new-best-friend, my oncologist, Dr. Schneitzer, I ask him what he thought about that idea.
His exact words were, "Kathy, you could sit in a freezer 24/7 and your hair is still going to fall out !"
My chemotheraphy came before the FDA had approved Zofran for nausea. But, I had been approved for a double-blind study that allowed them to give me either the Zofran or a placebo during my first chemo-cocktail. As luck would have it, I received the placebo, and consequently threw up my toenails within two hours of having those drugs shot into my blood stream. I had always heard of the word BILE, but never really knew what it looked like and certainly, not what it tasted like. People, I'm here to tell you, IT AIN'T PRETTY ! Green is not one of my favorite colors to this day, and I still gag at the sound of the word.
The chemo took it's toll on my entire body AND mind AND spirit AND hair. When I began, I weighed a whopping 112 pounds. After two treatments, I topped the scales at 98 pounds. I stopped weighing myself for fear that the scales would register a negative number. (Don't worry, I've gained it all back plus some !)
But I digress...
Here's where the words SUPPORT SYSTEM come to mind. My support system was the greatest. It consisted of my two daughters, my two aunts and their families, and 100's of friends. When I say HUNDREDS, I'm not exaggerating. Because I had been teaching in this little city in Okrahoma for ten years, I had met many teachers, principals, parents, and students. They rallied. There were sign-up lists to bring us dinner each night. There were sign-up lists to take SwampSpawn to softball. When my 40+ radiation treatments were scheduled, there were sign-up lists to drive me to Tulsa every day for over eight weeks for those.
At this point, you may be wondering, or maybe not, where hubby and my parents and my siblings were. Well, hubby and I were going through a very tramatic divorce. Aren't they all? Neither of my parents were living. And I was, and still am, an only child. So there. During that first visit with Dr. Schneitzer when my aunt from that state south of Okrahoma was with me, as she was for E.V.E.R.Y. treatment, asked about my immediate family members and learning there weren't that many, he asked her, "What are we going to do with this girl?" My first thought was, "JUST SHOOT ME !"
Now, back to SUPPORT SYSTEMS. Someday you may be a part of someone's support system. Here's one bit of advice:
Don't ask, "What can I do?"
1) I noticed there's no milk or eggs in the refrigerator. I'll be back with a few groceries and some Braum's ice cream.
2) I know that your daughter needs to be at softball on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'll make sure she gets there.
3) Because I know that it bothers you if your house is dusty, leave me your keys to the house, and while you're at treatment, I'll clean it.
4) Food will be here for you and your girls every night because I've coordinated a list of those who will deliver it. On the weekend, I'll be here to consolidate all the left overs and clean your refrigerator.
5) Our house has an open door for your teenage daughter. Whenever she needs a place to escape, she is welcome.
6) I'm sending my son over to mow your yard.
7) Get your scrawny a$$ dressed, we're going for a ride to get some fresh air.
8) I'll be here to take you to your doctor's appointment tomorrow. Afterwards, we'll go to a movie.
9) Here's a gift card to The Spa for a manicure, pedicure, massage, and hot oil treatment for your bald head.
10) Don't be afraid of your friend's cancer. "I had cancer. It didn't have me !"
Get the picture?
For me, it was difficult to even know what I needed. Much less, ask someone to do it for me. So, look around. There are many things that will be evident that you can help with.
I know you've seen this photo before, but once again, here it is:
(Wicked Witch, close your eyes.)
If you have a few minutes, be sure to scroll down for:
"What Cancer Cannot Do"
The List of Those Honored (You may still add names to this list because I'm still donating a dollar for each one to Breast Cancer Research.)
My friend, Alison, has left this wonderful idea to add to the above list: