We had a normal morning. She had oatmeal and coffee and it seemed like any other morning.
We got to the Cancer Center right at 9 and Cassie was waiting. We prayed in the parking lot and passed the large statue of Jesus to go in the front door. (This is a catholic hospital. When Cassie was driving to the first appointment, the man on the phone told her, “Don’t come in unless you see Jesus.”) So we smile when we pass the statue and it seems significant–don’t come in unless you see Jesus. We know He is with us.
First stop is the lab where they access the port for the first time. Marissa laughs with the nurses that I put the numbing cream in the wrong place and I probably did. I am a mom, but not a nurse. I handle the medical paperwork with ease, but sometimes I cringe with the physical stuff. I don’t shrink back, though. This is my story, too.
We head to to the chemo floor. It’s a very nice facility. You can choose a darker room with a TV or a room with an outside view. We choose light.
Our nurse is not the friendliest. She seems annoyed that we have brought two visitors when there is only one chair. As she does her work, Marissa engages her. She looks her in the eye and asks about her life. How long has she been doing this? What about her family? And this is why people love Marissa. While she is sitting in her chair waiting for her fist chemo treatment, she is genuinely interested in this nurse. And we all relax a little, because this nurse is a real person with a real story. She has done this job for over 40 years. She has twin grandsons. She is brave.
The IV is started and they are giving her liquids and nausea medicine and steroids and Benadryl. Then she will get two drugs to fight the cancer. When it comes time to administer the dark red drug, the nurse puts on full protective gear. They double check the dosage and instructions. It is a big deal. She pushes this drug slowly into the IV with syringes and tells Marissa that this is the drug that will make her hair fall out. I watch this red poison being pushed into my daughter’s body. It is both terrifying and thrilling. It is an awful drug and it is a wonderful drug. It might make my daughter very ill but it might kill her cancer.
I find myself cheering for the drugs, mentally urging them to do their work well. Marissa is doing fine. The Benadryl and the steroids are fighting with each other–she switches between sleepy and wired. When the last bag is emptied we have been there over 5 hours.
When we walk into the elevator, you can see the look of accomplishment in her face. She feels so happy it is over. She is fuzzy-headed but fine. One down, and 15 to go. She’ll face the side effects soon enough, but for now she is good. It’s done.
We walk out into the parking lot. The sun is shining and there stands the statue of Jesus.
He is with us. He has been there all along. We see Him.