I had chemo again last Tuesday. As my other had to be away this week, a wonderful friend had my 3 youngest for the day. My new friend Jo came with me for the hospital sesh. Jo's a scream and a woman of vital faith. I can best describe her spirit as that of Rita's in Educating Rita, but on a God trip. Or Anna from Mr God This is Anna, but grown up, or should I say, growed up. We all had a blast, as did my surprised and indignant body - what again? it would say, which it can, through me, Are you crazy? Why would you put this stuff in you? Jo and I made friends with a South-African woman who had had several rounds of chemo, who in the finish, wanted prayer - when people have heavy sentences screaming around their heads, the meaning of life becomes a hot topic and friendships are made with ease given the openness of people's spirits. Some who are battling cancer become bitter, angry and complaining - it is tough, the chemo brings depression and futile thoughts with its grim but necessary death drive; but still more it seems, become open to the possibility of God. When people are vulnerable and dependent, their hope for something greater than them, greater even than the medics and their magic medicine, comes to the fore.
After an impactful time with my oncologist, who is pretty wonderful - bright, strong, clever and compassionate, as you would hope - we headed for the chemo ward, where I got hooked up to my chemo drip (the bit I hate the most - those squirmy needles being threaded into your vein, hate them!). But Jo and I began chatting and having a laugh - honestly, I really have been laughing my head dizzy every trip I've had for chemo. But then I do tend to go with Holy Rollers. The couple next to us began laughing and joining in with us, we'll call them Harriet and Tom, as they don't know they are making an appearance in this blog. Harriet is suffering from gall bladder cancer. She sat there, hairless, in her jeans and beads, one leg up and totally chilled and shared her graphic story with lots of laughs and good humour. We popped nuts together - actual nuts - though frankly, we soon discovered we were kindred spirits in the nut department in general. Jo runs an Alpha course and as we had been talking about some of the shenanigans that went on there, Tom asked about our own (different) experiences of God and the impact that has had on our lives. We had to be turfed out by the nurses who needed my spot, but not before making plans to hook up again, though without drips and needles at Harriet and Tom's smallholding.
Yesterday was a bit giddy bonkers thanks to the steroids. I left my purse in the library that was closed behind us as we left. I had to raid the kid’s piggy banks to get cash for my daughters singing and Brownie classes. My brain kept racing ahead of me and leaving the rest of me behind. My daughter and I prepared for her singing lesson with me mispronouncing the Welsh words of Llyn Onn, (no not Cling On), but hopefully grasping the melody though I may be grasping at pause. Then we bawled out Climb Every Mountain like a pair of demented operatic nuns. My boys and I had a good time making stuff - a guinea pig run for the one and a mouse fairground for the other. We chatted as we worked - well they worked, I tried to work but nothing attached to my torso seemed to work very well. At one point my 6 year old said: Remember when you had that hysterectomy and you watched The Real Housewives of Beverley Hills? That was totally inappropriate, all they did was argue. I tried to tidy up the studio but it was like juggling with clock hands - bits of material and partly done work all over the place. The joy of being creative in a creative space with the children - for whom there are no limits, was so refreshing despite discombobulated self.
Today I woke up with red eyes and a fat red steroid face and did my stretches as if I were in a race being run by Laurel and Hardy. The steroids have had me racing from one thing to another leaving a trail of half done stuff behind me. Homeschool turned into making, which turned into band practise for the kids, with lots of singing and dancing and being silly. It ended with a playdate here for my daughter, for which I decided to break out the deep fat fryer that my other bought on a whim on the weekend. The literature warned that it should not be used by people with physical or mental health problems - I ignored the advice and was soon the star of my very own Chicken Shack, mandem, red face, eyes and all. The kids were even served fries with those sieve like metal basket thingies like at Harveys. Classy, moi?
Steroids? Bleurgh. Chemo? Bleurgh, though I'm glad for the laughs and the people I have met, some with indomitable spirits. There were lovely messages today and a proper letter - albeit an electronic one - from a dear friend who knows what is important in life and transposes her thoughts beautifully into written words. Life rolls on and so do the Holy Rollers. Here's to laughing, singing, dancing, children and friends - the trampoline effect that propels you upwards out of the dark.