FEB 2015

‘Now that your body knows the after-effects from Dose 1, you’ll find Dose 2 easier!’

Folks say that to prepare me.

But, they are wrong.

The after-effects hit me like a car being driven by Salman Khan. No, sorry, his driver. Within a day of the dose administration, I am throwing up. Lifeless. Helpless. Sometimes I don’t feel strong enough even to breathe. I try to keep myself hydrated. It feels like tiny terrorists have infiltrated into my body and are destroying everything in sight. It’s so hard not to cry.

After about nine days, I feel better. We decide to go out for a sizzler meal – the kids’ favourite. We get into the elevator. The doors close. Then they open again. Someone must have pressed the button. A young mother and her five-year old get in hurriedly. Almost. She takes a step in. Then she sees me in that headscarf. She panics. She retreats, pulling her kid with her, protectively.

I feel hurt. Almost teary. Bald, ill people don’t bite. We are harmless. Please don’t do this to us.

My friends are dropping in, calling, sending over small treats. But there is an interesting phenomenon – most of my men-friends are delegating this job to their wives.

Despite all our education, how sexist we remain – some jobs are ‘feminine’ jobs in our minds. Calling on sick people, being caring is a ‘woman’s’ job!

Aren’t there things a man can do for a sick female friend – maybe just take her out for a post-dinner ice cream?

Some friends rally around us, doing whatever they can, others call asking when they can meet. They specify which date and time are convenient to them. It’s so frustrating! We are already in a lot of discomfort. The whole family. Now we also need to line up meetings as per their convenience?

An acquaintance insists she wants to come over and meet me. We try to break gently that I am not up for meeting. She insists. We agree. Then she cancels an hour before coming over – something had come up at her office!

So, that's how those movie stars look good and get shampoo ads.
So, that’s how those movie stars look good and get shampoo ads!

Don’t do this to your friend in chemotherapy! Meeting is not important. In fact, it may be tiresome. Just ‘be there’ for them. And there are so many things you can do –

What you can do for a Friend Undergoing Chemotherapy

You can pamper your friend with gifts, or help her family out in small ways. Here is my personal list!

  • Scented candles
  • Aromatic Oils and Diffuser sets (during chemo, there are strong smells that overpower the room, the bathroom. A soothing room freshener helps)
  • Organic soaps
  • A magazine subscription
  • A set of CDs
  • Sugar-free sour candy to fight nausea
  • Books
  • Comic-books
  • Get-well soon balloons
  • Head scarves
  • A wig
  • Gingery sweets to fight nausea
  • Organic tea sachets
  • A tulsi plant
  • A satin pillow cover (for the aching scalp)
  • A large comfortable tee to wear at home (with a cheerful message on it!)
  • Offer to organize her kitchen cabinets
  • Take her kids out for a movie (remember, the children are affected by the illness that has taken over the household)
  • Or, help them do their homework/school projects
  • A post-dinner drive
  • A home massage/pedicure service
  • Dark chocolate
  • Walnuts and dates
  • Go over and cook her a dinner (find out which days she feels better –(not all days are bad)
  • Nail polish (her nails are turning black)
  • Cuticle cream
  • Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Go over with a game of scrabble

I recover from Dose 2 and manage to go back to work. Am counting the number of chemotherapy sessions left.  FOURTEEN. So many! I try not to think about it.

Next : Getting a Chemo Port

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