Anyone getting radiation treatment at North Austin Medical Center gets a code to enter a special parking lot near the side door of the clinic. You enter, sign in with the friendly ladies at the desk and wait your turn. Darby comes to fetch you for treatment. He reminds me of someone. Someone kind and gentle. You get your mask and your mouthpiece from your own hook on the wall - all sterilized and ready. Darby straps you in and you're zapped for 13 minutes. Terry endured, I paced and prayed in the waiting room.
He came out with very round eyes, but pleased to have it over. Day one of 35. Done.
We trekked about three miles over to Seton NW for chemo. We sat for a few minutes with the medical oncologist who acted like we were the only ones he wanted to talk to that morning. Treasures in heaven for that man.
Then down the hall to the "chemo lounge" full of lazy boy chairs and IV poles...and sick people. The sweetest nurses took blood - from the port, thank goodness - and sent it across the hall to the lab where the pharmacist mixed Terry's special poison up. He got bags of fluid and anti-nausea meds for several hours.
Hippa laws seemed to be suspended because everything for everybody got asked and told out loud before the entire room. I know way more than I want to know about several different kinds of cancer. But I am also somewhat in awe.
*A WWII vet whose wife was Asian, he called her 'Geisha-girl' - she went shopping and he had treatment alone. Terry discovered the name of the ship on which he had served. He hunted on my ipad, drew, then painted the ship's insignia with the small watercolor set he always carries. The grumpy sick guy had no words when Terry gave it to him. He just handed Terry his uneaten snack in a scrunched paper lunch bag - orange peanut butter crackers.
*A woman whose cancer had reoccurred for the third time brought her husband and son with her to treatment. The two guys played loud on-line war games on their laptops while she gave marital advice on her cell phone. All afternoon.
*Ms. Clark and I decided we were probably related, which would be some generations back since we are quite obviously from different ethnic groups. We held hands and became friends and prayed together while her chemo dripped and her gangsta guy snoozed.
*A very large and alone man with Texas rancher jeans and boots tried to smile and chat with us while the nurse did something painful to the pump in his side.
*A beautiful young woman worked on her laptop and made business calls all during her treatment, she only spoke or looked up when the kind doctor came to check on her - he touched her hair which was falling out in untidy clumps.
*The son and husband of a very sick, sad breast cancer woman kept taking turns sitting with her and patting her hand and going out to the parking lot for cigarettes.
*An elderly man watched his wife sleep through her treatment, he covered her with a crazy colored crocheted blanket from a paper grocery bag he brought with them. He tried to read. He was really just interested in watching her sleep.
Finally Terry's cisplatin came from the pharmacy in a small, unassuming clear plastic bag. I was prepared to hate cisplatin - the toxic stuff about to enter the body of the one I love. But then I learned the miracle. Cisplatin is a platinum (heavy metal) compound. It works by preventing the production of DNA by the cell. It does this by forming links with the cancer cell DNA, binding them together and preventing them from reproducing. It is cleverly designed to enter those armored cancer cells and destroy their capability of growth and harm. I love cisplatin.
Today Terry is weary and a funny color and dealing with odd symptoms like hiccoughs. And not fun ones like nausea.
But we are killing cancer cells. Our prayers and your prayers. Radiation. And cisplatin.
God is good and faithful.