Chemo Club

Photo by Pranidchakan Boonrom on

My mother paused before she pushed the door open to the chemotherapy treatment room and said in an excited voice “Maybe Carol will be here today.” We first met Carol three months ago on my mother’s first day of chemotherapy. On that day, I had walked into the room carrying a grilled cheese sandwich from the medical facilities’ cafeteria. My mother was sitting next to a balding woman around my mother’s age.  She introduced me to Carol and said. “Carol has really been helping me. She has had my cancer for 11 years. She used to be a nurse and has lots of great ideas for managing side affects. She is still alive and has been able to be with her grandchildren. So maybe this will work”

Carol explained that when she spoke to the doctor that morning she learned that there was another woman being treated with peritoneal cancer. They were the only two in the practice with this rare form of cancer and fate had put them in side by side chemo chairs. Through Carol we learned that Phillip’s Milk of Magnesia was the best remedy to counteract the constipating effects of chemo. She showed us a brochure from the American Cancer Society that offered inexpensive wigs and explained that she preferred not to wear one.  Carol also told us that she was unable to walk long distances and we discussed the merits of Target and Walmart and the scooters that they provided for disabled shoppers. Although I know that my mother hates the idea of being in a wheel chair or a scooter, I know that Carol will be able to yield more influence in getting to her to try it than I ever will.

I met Carol’s daughter and over the next months we learned about each other’s families. I showed her pictures of my single friend for her divorced son. By the second visit, I was bringing Carol Atkins Mocha shakes to sustain her for the next few days after chemo and Biotin to help her to regrow her hair. We arranged for a son and law to help my mother with her computer.

This last round I brought my mother and Carol the famous grilled cheese sandwiches from the cafeteria. These sandwiches and Carol were the things that my mother looked forward to help through boredom and pain of a seven hour hook up of toxic drugs being infused into her body. We discussed finding a support group that they could both attend and Carol wanted my mother to call so they could exchange news on their CA125 markers.  Today my mother called me up with “the most horrible news”. The doctor planed to do another round of chemo. “This is never going to stop” she cried. We decided that she needed to call Carol.

Previously Published on Open Salon Under Snarkychaser May 25 2011