During chemo, you join an elite group that enjoys a camaraderie that many hope not to ever have to know. You get to know people by how far along in their treatment they are by the amount of hair they have on their head or if they have eyebrows or eyelashes. You can tell what kind of week they have had by the color of their skin – is it jaundice yellow? Is it pale and accompanied by sunken cheeks and black circles under their eyes?
Care speaking at Relay For Life
You can tell how they feel by how many blankets they request from the warmer, or how tightly wrapped they are in their own fleece blankets that they bring. You know not to ask questions when they bury themselves under the blankets, their nose and mouth barely visible. You often times hear people joke about the ‘molting season’ they are in, as the skin on their hands and feel peel, layer after layer, and week after week.
Conversely, there are those who are chatty, whose nausea is under control, or possibly they have found a chemo cocktail that agrees with their system; it may be a good week for them or maybe they are on a maintenance dose of medication, possibly on the hopeful side of remission of this ugly disease.
In remission, out of remission, tumor markers great, tumor markers have risen; blood levels look great; blood levels have tanked; transfusions, infusions, injections, rejections……it is a white knuckle roller coaster ride. And, it is a carny ride that does not discriminate against age, height, weight, color of skin, ethnicity, heritage, gender, religious preference, political alliance or hair color (or lack of it!).
But, like a carnival, it takes all kinds, shapes and colors to pull off the “Greatest Show on Earth”. And the “Greatest Show on Earth” is LIFE itself. Life is colored by people of all heritages, all lines of work, all social strata, all ethnicities, all ages, and all genders. And just like in life, in chemo, you are thrown into the ‘melting pot’. Like any good recipe a sourpuss attitude can ruin the whole batch, just as much as just a bright and just the right seasoning of humor, friendliness and levity will make the medicine go down a bit easier.
So, we raise our hands high when we are at the top of our treatment; possibly in remission, possibly just having a good day. And on those days when the bottom drops out from underneath us, we know we have camaraderie of new friends who will buoy us up, because they have been there; because they care; because they know you, too, can make it through, just as they have. We are each in our seats, belts and IV’s hooked tight, ready or not to go at it one more time…..until that time that we can get off the white knuckle ride of a roller coaster, and climb back on the merry-go-round of “normal” everyday life, (though it will NEVER be “normal” again!) And grab the brass ring as we keep fighting back. For today, I’m in remission.
"Loose Screws and Skinned Knees" by Care Tuk can be ordered Here
Care Tuk is a nationally known speaker, educator, and retreat/workshop leader. She has been a school, hospital, and home health occupational therapist for more than 30 years. She has been named as a Top Business Woman in America and recognized for her work with youth, disability outreach and awareness, and the American Cancer Society.
Care lives in Wasilla, Alaska, with her husband Bill. They have two grown children, Jamie and Tim, who live nearby.
At the time this book went to print, Care had just completed treatment/chemo from her eleventh bout with cancer.
She has a blog at Carescorner.net She is author of a book titled: "Loose Screws and Skinned Knees"
Care is a WhatNexter, drop by her profile page HERE In her 11 bouts with cancer, she has fought these types of cancer at least once Breast, Thyroid, Skin Cancer Melanoma, Colorectal, Ovarian, Cervical, Lymphoma of the skin. So the next time you think you're having a tough day, ask yourself this, "how many times have I had cancer"?