Dear Mathew,

Wow. These last 3 days were rough ~ the roughest so far, by far. It started out so well that our fingers were crossed your recovery would be smooth. Yeah…as if. Tuesday went great; Dad took you in for your chemo while I went to work. All through the day I got texts from him that you were chatting up a storm with the nurse, feeling great and eating popsicles. After chemo you and Dad went shopping and still made it home for 2 pm. He called me after that to tell me how well it all went.

You were still feeling fine into the evening. Dad stayed with you Tuesday night and off I went to work on Wednesday. My first inkling that all was not well happened when Dad called me in the afternoon talking about Jekyll and Hyde and flying teddy bears. One of your drugs, Decadron, has a side effect of mood swings. That works so well with YOUR mood disorder (akin to bipolar) and we can tell when you are under the influence of that drug. You take Decadron for 3 days after the day of chemo; you actually get it on chemo day as well but through IV. I was requested to be home in time for needles because you were adamant you needed your mother for that.

Yup, it wasn’t pretty in there ~ poor you, you were feeling crappy and screaming one minute then crying the next. You did NOT want your needles and let us know it in no uncertain terms. By now we are familiar with the injections and Dad doesn’t have to recover after sticking you. We still hate it though and your poor abdomen is covered in bruises in varying sizes and degrees of colour ranging from blackish-green to faded yellow. It is hard to find an unblemished area to stick you.

You spent that evening in bad shape. A lot of time was spent crying and apologizing for what was just yelled. You know we understand and we love you. Sometimes one of us just has to step outside the room to remind ourselves that none of this is personal and you are hurting. I feel terrible when I can step away momentarily because I know you can’t.

Dad stayed with you that night and your illness continued through the night. By morning you hadn’t drunk or taken anything to help with nausea and then you started dry heaving and started feeling a whole lot worse until you asked us to take you to the ER. We called the oncology ward first for their direction, which was to take you to ER. It is the fastest way to get you through admission and into some kind of treatment.

It didn’t seem like it. First was the triage and waiting for our turn, which was over 20 minutes. Then we received our “registration” number and hid in a far away corner for another 20 minutes until your number flashed on the screen. As soon as we got to the registration a nurse came out to say you would be taken in immediately. Finally!

Once you had your bed then the nurse had to take your vitals. You refused to let her put a thermometer in your mouth, do you remember? She stuck the thermometer in your armpit. The IV team got paged and two people showed up to access your PICC line. Which was funny because we were clear to everyone, each time they asked, that you had a PORT and not a PICC line. Anyway, those IV people had to go off and get the materials for your port. The doctor came through and said your bloodwork would be done there and you also had an xray scheduled of your chest. They wanted to make sure you didn’t have pneumonia or some other kind of lung infection. It didn’t take long to start running the saline solution and some anti-nausea drugs into you. Slowly you started to feel better after a second anti-nausea medication was infused. You rested a bit, but just about the time everyone was pleased with the results and said you could go home another problem started.

Diahrrea. Out of nowhere. I wanted to bang the door shut on my head. Remember last week I gave you the suppository because you hadn’t had a bowel movement in 8 days? That was nasty (yeah, and the oncology nurses were so unhappy about that suppository. Although they had no idea what to do instead of that you can’t have that again while on chemo). That wasn’t enough suffering apparently because now another problem asserted itself. Of course we never brought a change of clothes with us. Duh ~ not a quick learner anymore more, so I’m not.

Anyway, we got home just in time, *whew*. The next 8 hours consisted of running to the bathroom and cleaning up. By 10 pm we were worried about THIS enough to call the oncology ward back; I think we’re getting to know everyone up there quite well. I was instructed to give you 2 mg of immodium every 2 hours and luckily we have that in the house. One dose is all it took for your body to quiet down a little. I’m concerned a see-saw pattern could happen because now we’ll probably have to amp up the other stuff to move your bowels again.

Today you finally felt somewhat better. Of course your chair broke 2 nights ago; the new one from Costco. The new, electric one. The sidearm broke off from the main body. We used it tentatively but really; did we need that too? Right now? Really?? So Dad went off this afternoon to take it back and look for a new one. Sometimes the chair gives you support and comfort when your bed can’t. When you aren’t using the chair we are so it is necessary furniture right now.

I constantly fed you medication and drinks today as you tried to eat but couldn’t. You drank your first Ensure, vanilla flavoured, a meal replacement with 340 calories or something like that. Just to get something in your body. By this evening you actually felt well enough for a sit-down shower. You sure enjoyed getting clean and soaking under the warm water! People assume because you are 20 years old that you are self-sufficient. I don’t think they realize that we have to bathe you and brush your teeth, etc. In fact, I was brushing your teeth before the cancer diagnosis just because the dentist asked me to help keep your teeth healthy. By the time your shower is done I need one from sweating and getting wet myself.

Once back in your bed you finally drifted off for some well earned, comfortable sleep. Comfort is the key word here; yesterday you spent so much time huddled over on the bed, unable to find relief in any position. At this point in the chemo cycle you can’t stand to be touched or anyone disturbing your bed by sitting on it. There is no lights or noise allowed as everything makes you nauseous. I read on my iPad in the chair…yeah, the broken one.

Dad brought a new one home, a bonded-leather “as-is” electric recliner, no warranty and no returns. We set it up and tried it out in your room and it stopped working the first trial run. WTF?? We tried the remote, checked all the wiring and then Dad phoned the company back to say the chair was coming back first thing tomorrow morning, no return or not. He’s good that way; people listen to him. While he was talking to the fellow I fiddled under the chair and found a wire being crushed in amongst the pneumatic workings and motors. It turns out that was the problem and since the chair basically was “as is”, we undid a few things and set everything right.

The chair WORKED after that! Bloody better have! It wasn’t cheap! We moved the wires around so they shouldn’t be affected. You were so tired that you giggled as we disbelieving pressed every stupid button trying to make that chair work when it froze. When I expressed concern that your Dad might wiggle something and send the seat flying off the floor, well you giggled some more. It was almost worth the money we paid just for your entertainment and to see you smile again.

Alls well that ends well. Today, anyway. You commented that you feel so much better than the last few days. I think so too. The laundry is caught up again, everything is clean and you are over the 3 day recovery hump. Now I am going to settle myself into your new chair while you sleep so that if it is going to break and dump someone out, it will be me. Rest assured if it does that, there won’t be anything left to return the store by the time I’m done with it. Sometimes I like to smash things when it is the straw “that broke the camel’s back” as the saying goes.

This cancer is a bitch. The treatment is horrible, just awful. This is only Cycle 3 of 13 and I dread the next rounds if this pattern continues. You know what I say? Fuck cancer awareness month. We’re all aware of cancer.

CURE it. Take all that “awareness” money and bloody CURE it.

No one should suffer like this.