No chemo today

Thank you for your good wishes and prayers.

But, well, I bagged. I couldn’t go through with it. For the first time that I can remember, I declined chemo mid-process.

The anticipatory nausea started when I entered the blood draw area. I was holding it off, but then the nurse injected TPA into my port, which made me light-headed and more nauseous.

When I left the blood draw area an hour later, I noticed that the waiting room was PACKED and abuzz. There should not be this much cancer in the world. The air felt heavy as I walked through the waiting room filled with a sea of people of every age and type suddenly floating around me – bearing surgical scars, breathing through oxygen tubes, slouching in wheelchairs and wearing masks and gloves.

I plowed ahead to the elevator to see my doctor, as scheduled. During our conversation, the nausea let loose full force. Multiple times. Lovely. Thankfully, I travel with vomit bags. Handy dandy for times like these.

Usually, after seeing my doctor, I have to sit in that waiting room to wait for my chemo to be ordered and my infusion to begin, but the DFCI people are SO NICE. The nurse arrived and walked with me through the back entrance, bypassing the waiting room and going directly to my chair in the infusion center. After I sat, I was barely holding it together and every time I looked at the anti-nausea meds I was supposed to take, I would vomit again.

My chemo was scheduled to start at 10:15. At 12:30, I was still sitting there, sick and crying and saying that I really couldn’t do this. The man next to me had the TV blaring. The woman across from me was meeting with a dietician and discussing food options. Lunch was being delivered on a cart. I tried to be zen about it all.

“Let’s try giving you some fluids,” seems to be the answer to every problem.

“I don’t want fluids. I just want to stop vomiting,” I said, two words at a time, between bouts.

The nurse gave me some IV anti-nausea meds, then, when my stomach calmed down, asked me to think it over.

I thought that I should continue my treatments. I thought about the kids, that I should do absolutely everything for them. I thought about just getting this one round underway and done. I considered that it might get better. I thought about fulfilling my commitment to 8 sessions, much like we expect the kids to finish whatever activity for which they ask us to sign them up and pay for. I thought about how I would handle the situation if I were the mom and this were my child resisting and begging not to do it. I don’t know what I would do, but  I vowed to be kinder the next time my kids resist doing something.

The social worker magically appeared to help me think through this. Perfect timing. Love the serendipity.

At 1:30, the doctor, nurse and social worked all asked what I wanted to do. By now, Tiron had arrived to hold my hand.

“I want to go home. I’m tired. I feel sick. This doesn’t feel right.” Not that chemo ever feels right.

This is unusual for me. Once a process is underway, I suck it up and go with it, no matter what. If it is stopped, it will not be because of me. But I just couldn’t do this round. It felt way too hard. I guess I do have a breaking point.

Once home, I showered to create a fresh start and groggily picked up one son from school. I thought he would be thrilled, but instead he reminded me that surprises aren’t always his thing.

“Why didn’t you tell me? I didn’t expect you.” Back to the real world, and so grateful.



22 thoughts on “No chemo today

  1. Dearest Marie
    You are the bravest person I know. I love you and am proud of you in every way. Everyone has their limits. You followed your heart which with you is generally right. I am here if you need anything.
    Tons of love

  2. Oh Marie, So sorry about your day! But it is just a day–and one in which you were outrageously sick. May tomorrow be a brighter one….Much love, Charmi

  3. I’m so sorry that you had such nausea and vomiting. It’s the worst feeling in the world. I hope you feel better and at peace tonight.

  4. Hope you feel better and enjoy a nice evening at home. Tomorrow is a new day and with it comes new strength and new thoughts!

  5. Oh, Marie. My heart went out to you as I read this journal of this most challenging day. Your body knows best; your deep inside voice knows best and today was not the day for more chemo for you. You are in my heart and my prayers. Blessings on you, Marie, and your incredible family.

  6. My heart broke reading about your tough and rotten day. You have always had such intuition and insights that come from a generous and grateful heart. I’m glad you are trusting yourself. Prayers, love, and hugs.

  7. Dear Marie. Thank you for sharing with us about what you went through yesterday. I am so sorry that you had to go through that but am glad that you listened to your inner voice and changed the plan. Please let us know how to best pray for you today and throughout the week. At a minimum, I am praying that today is a brighter day and that that terrible nausea has subsided. With love, Eliza

  8. Throwing up is awful – and personally knowing what the chemo will do I know what you are feeling – know what you mean about doing what you are told – however there is our good Marie at the end of the story still making us smile at the end – you are so strong and such an inspiration – you don’t realize how many people you have touched – you are always in my prayers-love Louise from USAirways

  9. “I thought about how i would handle the situation if I were the mom and this were my child resisting and begging not to do it, and vowed to be kinder the next time my kids resist doing something.” Ahhhhh. What a good reminder. I admire you so much for being able to be empathetic while going through so much. Hugs and so proud of you!!!!!! Rachel

  10. Oh man. Sounds awful. You made the right call, Marie. We all do have our limits as you write and it’s so important to recognize them and to be okay with it. Sending love and hugs. Eve

  11. love you so much and wish I could be there to wrap you in my arms and put a cold cloth to your brow. You amaze me with your ability to think so logically and thoughtfully through every hurdle in your path. hugs and more from your southern girl

  12. Hope you feel better. Thank you for sharing so openly. Your struggles give me perspective and are a great reminder of so many things. You are in my thoughts and prayers. xo

  13. MARIE; I feel so moved when I read your web page and I know I am in the presence of real courage when I read about your travails. Please keep up your courage. It is so inspiring. Rick

  14. I read this and was moved by it several weeks ago. Today I returned to it and am newly awed. It seems to me there is a sense of ‘waking up’ in your experience, and not liking what you see. To be truly aware in your life, and make authentic decisions based on that awareness, is simply brilliant. I wish you the very best on your continuing journey. x x x

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