This photo was taken the during a pre-surgery celebration awhile back. Unbeknownst to me, my sister and friends had gone out and rounded up some tiger garb, and called themselves Tanya’s Tigers. Wonderfully cheesy, unapologetically open, shamelessly sentimental and the most incredible, eclectic group of people by whom anyone could be surrounded, these are my friends. They are not all pictured – there are many others making daily phone calls, sending daily texts, making daily check-ins and sending cards, virtual hugs and just about anything I could ask for. One favourite in the past few weeks was a quick note written by a friend’s mother who lives close by – assuring me that I could call her and she would come and sleep with me if I needed her to do so. Brought me to tears.
Someone told me at the beginning of this journey that people were going to want to help, and they knew that I was going to have a hard time with that. I have often been known as a collector of strays, and my kitchen has fed many wanderers and friends because it’s what I like to do. The first few weeks after my surgery I had a different girlfriend drop off food (not just food – hearty, two and three course meals ready to put on the table for me and my children) every day. I had a very emotional response to this and still do, because I don’t know how I will ever repay them. To know that I have a freezer full of casseroles, soups, lasagnas, baking for lunches, homemade breads (I have learned how to properly pronounce ‘Challa’ and ‘Pulla’ – although my spelling seems somewhat suspect!) My girlfriends used the magic of facebook, and continue to do so, to make up a schedule. And, magically, whether I’ve spent my afternoon napping or puttering or trying to get outside, there is an amazing meal ready on the table.
On other fronts, other friends have found ways to make my life easier, give me a laugh or simply provide company. Walks in the woods, bathed in sun and dipping my feet in the water are pretty precious right now. Returning home from Chemo session #2 knowing that my sister is staying the night just in case I need her? Also precious. This was a favourite yesterday – another friend showing up announcing he was going to work in my garden (which is becoming a community effort) for awhile. Another bonus – he came in and clipped one child’s fingernails because I couldn’t find my nail clippers and had zero energy. It’s the little things.
Every day, I am surprised by the kindness of others, and I wish I could express just how much every check-in, every text, every visit, every meal, every card and every kindness help propel me forward through these chemotherapy sessions. Yesterday, with the help of my sister and two friends, a good supply of candy and some trashy magazines, my session was a breeze. There are few miserable situations that laughter (and a little yoga breathing) can’t make better.
Candy selection for session #2 – the icebreakers are still the winners, even though the smell of them during the week had me kind of convinced otherwise. The mind is a fascinating thing when it comes to connecting smell to memory.
We got the room this time – in case we were too raucous. Laughter is the best medicine.
The day prior to this treatment I called a life-time friend at 8am. to get her to come with me, because I was finding out the results of all of my scans: (MUGA scan, bone scan, abdominal and pelvic ultrasounds, chest x-ray and bloodwork). When the nurse took my pulse prior to getting the results it was 104. After a few seconds of some deep breathing like this, it went down to 82. This shit works, and so whenever I feel that wave of panic taking over (a.k.a. pterodactyls, not butterflies) , I breathe. I highly recommend it. Even if I don’t look totally convinced in this particular pic. The fact that the scans all came out clean prompted a hospital-lobby jig with my friend – another favourite.
This friend had her children looked after by another dear friend, who handed me soup and homemade foccaccia bread when we went to pick up said children. This is how they roll. And this is why I am so lucky. And yes, those are my heels tucked in beside my chair. Always wear heels to chemo.
My ‘seester’, who will continue to make sure her work schedule is clear and her three (yes, three) boys 6 and under are taken care of, because ‘chemo is her thing.’ Two down, seester. Love you. (Oh. And she wears heels to chemo as well.)