Since my stem cell transplant I no longer produce an important antibody, the one that fights off viruses. So every 6 to 8 weeks I go into my oncologist for a “boost”. The Wikipedia says, “IVIG is given as a plasma protein replacement therapy (IgG) for immune deficient patients who have decreased or abolished antibody production capabilities.”
Today has proven to be a very social day here. Our infusion room is rather small, seven reclining chairs. As I was prepared for my infusion, I overheard two men talking about Salt Lake City. (Living in Kalispell, Montana, when I hear patients or survivors talk about Salt Lake City I tune in.) When there was a pause in their conversation, I asked them if they were treated at Huntsman Cancer Hosiptal. They both were in 2009 for multiple myeloma. One gentleman was in remission and the other has relasped.
We shared our stories and exchanged our experiences at Huntsman. Our clinics were right next door to each other and the Bone Marrow Unit was actually a part of the multiple myeloma clinic. I heard doctor names that I was familiar with as well as places and wings in the hospital.
M, who relapsed, said he is a custom log home builder, owning his own company. He is also an avid outdoorsman.
During one of his stays in the hospital in Salt Lake City, he said he was rather down and negative about his diagnose with cancer. One day when he stood in the walkway bridge between the cancer hospital and the university hospital he admired the beautiful Wasatch Mountain range east of Salt Lake City. As M stared at their grandeur, he made the decision he was going to beat this beast and promised himself when he was well he would go hiking and recreate in the mountains again.
Huntsman Cancer Hospital, Salt Lake City, UT, the Wasatch Mountains in the background
I shared with M that those mountains also inspired me. I told him about my experience of feeling blue and wondering if God really did care about me. (You can click here to read, “Does God really care about me?”) I told him after looking out at those mountains, I, too, was filled with a sense of how big God is and if He could create those mountains, He certainly could take care of me.
What inspires you as a patient, survivor or caregiver? When it seems that the rope is getting awful thin and perhaps even unraveling, what or who do you turn to for strength and support?
A base of support is a tremendous source of strength and encouragement. If you have some sort of foundational support it is surprising how fast the base broadens, it reaches out to places and persons you have lost touch with or don’t even know. People from all over rally around you, I was blessed beyond words and I will never be able to explain to them how their care and concern inspired me to hang in there. But even greater, my support base had people who believed in prayer and the power of prayer and I can testify that when I called on them to pray for me, the calm and peace and strength to endure returned.
If you are a reader and not a patient or survivor, you do not realize how important you are in the life of a cancer patient! M and I agreed that people are important. If you think your note or email or text might be received at the wrong time or circumstance, it will probably be received at just the right moment! I had many of those moments and I can’t tell you what they did for me!
After M left, a woman walked in for a blood draw. My back is to the area where the nurses take blood. The nurse was telling the patient her port was plugged and she couldn’t draw blood, she recommended this woman, J, to go to the infusion room where the pic nurses are adept at correcting kinks and plugs in the line. When I heard the name “J”, I turned around to see if this was the J I talked to about stem cell transplants three months ago and she was. I was so happy to see her, I was wondering if she ever did get her transplant.
J is presently in chemotherapy prepping for the autologous stem cell transplant. Next Tuesday she is to be admitted for her transplant in another city far from here. I was glad to see her but our conversation was cut short because the infusion room was waiting for her.
I wonder if J has the support she needs so far away from home, I hope she won’t feel alone as she goes through her transplant process. This winter I mentored another transplant patient who was alone. I can’t image going through chemotherapy let alone a transplant with no one there to listen to you, talk to you, cry with you, encourage you.
If you are the friend or follower of someone with cancer, write, write, write!! You will bless beyond your knowing! Don’t be afraid, you are not a nuisance or an annoyance – you are a blesser and support!
I encourage the patient and caregiver to let everyone know when you need prayer! I kept a CaringBridge journal all through my treatment and transplant and beyond. The journal was my source of receiving encouraging words and notes as well as letting me alert my followers I needed prayer. It was an amazing way to communicate!
If you are a patient, caregiver, friend or reader and know of someone who has cancer and very little if any support foundation, adopt them. Ask if you may occasionally call or if they have an email address could you write them. Cancer is a very lonely disease. That is crazy to say because all of you can probably name ten people either first hand, second hand or third hand who has cancer. Even if the patient seems to have a sufficient base, still there are moments of loneliness, and one email may be what the patient needs; cards are welcomed, too.
This could be an individual ministry or perfect for a small group outreach. It is pretty simple too, the written word, a spoken word, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, a visit to the infusion room or the hospital room. And best of all, we can pray for them. You’ll find when people are in crisis they gladly accept prayer.
As I was packing up my computer this early evening, there was one patient left receiving her last bag of chemotherapy. She was a young woman and her mom and dad were there as her support. I overheard that she had little children and I think one is still in diapers. I thought she had breast cancer because both she and her mom were wearing pink shirts, sweatshirts and socks so I wrote on back of one of my flyers the name of a breast cancer blog about a young mom with young children, Praise You In This Storm. I told her I assumed she had breast cancer and she said no, she had colon cancer. Pink sure has us indoctrinated!!
I left for a moment and came back to tell her there are two other blogs written by young moms with cancer on my blog’s side bar. She told me her husband works for the railroad and is often away days at a time. Can you imagine? First, so young and has colon cancer and two, her husband is away. And then her mom said that her daughter is well supported by their church. We agreed that the church plays an important role for anyone going through a traumatic event. I invited them to our cancer support group and then I left for home.
What a day!