No time is a good time for cancer treatment. Brain cancer interrupted my twenties with surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. When I was told I needed to start another course of chemotherapy nearly two months ago, I thought the timing couldn’t be any worse, with the world turned upside down from COVID-19 pandemic. But the more I thought about it, there are certainly some positives to doing chemo during this time:
- Work: My entire department has been working remotely from their homes, reducing my physical contact with other people. When I had to do treatment in the past, I needed to limit my exposure to others, which made collaboration difficult. Now, meetings conveniently happen over video conferencing.
- Face Coverings: I can wear a mask in public without a thousand stares for it because everyone else is wearing one too. And the designs I’ve seen are kind of nifty. Welcome to the world of cancer patients, everyone.
- Hospitals: At least the ones by me are fairly empty. No more waiting in a crowded waiting room. Of course, that means that most the time I’m alone, but let’s not focus on that.
I finished putting on my mask before exiting the car as my boyfriend dropped me off at the front entrance of our local hospital. The hand-written sign thanking healthcare workers brought a smile to my face. It was early on a Wednesday morning, which was the day designated for checking my blood counts. I proceeded through the checkpoint inside and into the quiet, somewhat desolate waiting room beyond.
“Hi Jennifer!” the lab technician chirped, before even looking down at the order. She already knew me and why I was there. The benefits of being a weekly regular. She quickly and painlessly extracted a vial of liquid from my left arm and compared the label to my wristband, all while exchanging some nice conversation, mostly about my cute dog at home.
Later that day, I received a call from the nurse with the results. There had been some causalities of war this week. Bystander blood cells destroyed in the wake of the destructive chemotherapy. I like to imagine the chemo as little elite warriors, tearing through my system to kill those wild, unwanted cancer cells. And I feel it too. My insides ache, but my fighting spirit still carries on.