My husband Terry just phoned from work to say he’s coming with me for my second chemotherapy session. I decided I’d brave the second session on my own so hadn’t asked. But he obviously picked up on a touch of anxiety I was feeling and decided he’d come along to support me. So having driven all the way into work this morning he called me and then turned around and drove back home again! These are the little acts of kindness that bring me close to tears and make me feel loved, supported and very lucky. I’m not doing this alone.
I’d had severe stomach pain several days following my first session and although it had cleared I was still a little nervous about it and wanted to run it by my doctor. When you’ve already had a tumour removed every ‘new’ ache or pain you feel can be insanely worrying. I also knew I’d be having my first scan and even though it’s casually referred to as routine at the start of chemotherapy treatment, I know they’ll be inspecting it closely. Inspections and scrutiny, scans and biopsies. I know where this all leads to now I’ve become an expert, it leads to me being told the results! Think waiting for your leaving cert results, that heart in the mouth sense of anticipation, that sheer terror and wonder at the direction your life might take within the next few seconds … and you get the general picture.
But I remind myself that I’m not doing this alone and have been surrounded by so many acts of kindness. From the countless gifts, cards and bouquets of flowers delivered to my house from work colleagues, family and friends. To the offers of childminding and sleepovers for the kids and girlie pampering when this is all over. I’ve about a year’s supply of cocktails and prosecco to get through.
I’m also very lucky, my tumour was removed with surgery. Ok so they also removed anything else they felt I wouldn’t need while they were there like my gallbladder, part of my pancreas and stomach. But you don’t want to hear about that. And hey who needs them anyway, I’m happy to report I’m doing just fine without these bits. The chemotherapy treatment I’m having has such a lovely name. It’s called ‘mopping up’ where having removed a tumour they basically still blitz everything anyway just incase there’s anything left that went unnoticed. “We call it insurance chemo” my surgeon said.
On the Saturday after my second session I had a missed call from the hospital. When I recognised the number I froze. “Jesus what are they ringing me for on a Saturday?” the sense of panic was crippling. There was a voicemail from my Oncologist Professor Ray MacDermott. “Just do it, dial the bloody number and listen to the message!” “Hi Amanda, it’s Ray MacDermott here, just ringing to let you know we got your scan results back. Everything is looking good, I’m happy with things and we’ll repeat the process in three month’s time”. I sat on the edge of my bed and composed myself, sighed aloud and with my hand on my mouth fought back the tears, the sense of relief was overwhelming. How thoughtful of Professor MacDermott to call me with such good news… yet another small act of kindness.
So to all of you wonderful people I’m fortunate enough to know … family… friends… work colleagues… medical and nursing teams… everyone that is there for me right now. I say…
I’m giving you all a huge bear hug, I’m squeezing you tight and never letting go. Please don’t underestimate the enormous value of each of your little acts of kindness, it means so much to all of us who are going through this cancer thing. We need your love and support even though we might not say it. And if you’re on this cancer journey too you’ll know how much it means to feel we’re not doing this alone. If you’re having a down day (like I did yesterday!) go easy on yourself. Let’s do this together, let’s conquer this cancer thing together safe and secure in the knowledge that with each small act of kindness that comes our way… we are surrounded by people who care.