We finished my first chemo infusion and made our way home. No drama, super boring, and super sick of sitting still for so long. Nurses were lovely! First chemo was 8 hours, 1 liter of liquid dripped in, lots of trips to the bathroom to tinkle, and a partridge in a pear tree.

I had books with me, but didn’t get much reading done. I tuned into a Christmas concert on YouTube of the Walking Roots Band, that was lovely. Maybe next time I will bring along some yarn.

The lunch lady didn’t have food options that worked with my food allergies but she did appear with a beautiful apple and banana that were both lovely, and I brought other snacks with me.

Accessing my new port was painful, but the pain didn’t last long. I could use some lidocaine on that port ahead of time, but it’s probably not worth the bother to me – your mileage may vary. Having the port in use for 8 hours was not painful. When they do a saline flush in your vein, you feel it! When they did a flush in the port, I didn’t feel a thing. The guy that removed the port at the end of the day was super adept at it and I had very little pain at that point.

There was one point that I felt some shortness of breath, like an asthma attack was coming. However, it took the off ramp before it got to me, hallelujah! The nurse was super helpful and checked my oxygen levels a number of times through it. It was 100% when I got there, and didn’t dip below 95% in our tests, so that’s fantastic. All the other levels that they monster (ok, Speil Czech ate the word I wanted, but it’s funny, so I’m leaving it there) blood pressure and pulse rate remained great.

Thanks be to God! So grateful it went so well.

Today was the largest dose of the group of chemo drugs I will get, and there was waiting time between the cocktails to monitor how my body responded. From here on out there will be no waiting between the doses, and the amount of meds taper off and so it won’t be 8 hours next time. Whew!

Came home, did some laundry, had some dinner, played with the dog, fell asleep watching Britbox. Boring is such a huge blessing!

The room where chemo happens is a long room with cubbyhole stations all along the walls. There were about a dozen chemo stations in my zone and the center part of the floor is full of activity. There are nurses with their rolling computer carts flitting from patient to patient in a garden of buzzy bees. I was the second person to arrive and the second-to-last one out. There was a lot of activity, and lots of great people watching to do. There was zero drama in that room today, people were napping away during their infusions. Nurses were very busy.

One of the nurses is someone that I went to church with at Weavers Mennonite in my childhood. She’s clearly very good at her job! My last nurse of the day had a last name I recognized and so I asked if he was Mennonite, and indeed he had grown up Mennonite and went to EMHS, and EMU just like I did. He sat with us and went over all the details and answered our questions with kindness and patience. All the nurses embodied kindness and attentive care and I’m so grateful for the work they do!

I looked around for Jesus, I find that it helps me in ways that are difficult to articulate – even for someone with my love of word wrangling. Instead of standing nearby, like you’d expect an embodied form to be, this time I had the sense of Presence hovering above me. It wasn’t easy to focus on that awareness with so many people to watch and nurses scurrying around and beepers going off, but I was aware of peace. Just a fleeting second of God-awareness in the shadow of His wings made a world of difference for me.

I feel very grateful for a good day and very aware that this was the first day of a treatment journey. This is the opening gambit in a game of chess and we started strong.

There’s a lot of game ahead.

Although I win.

That part isn’t in question At. All.

Verses that pop out at me: The shipwreck story of Paul being bitten by a venomous snake, which he just knocked off into the fire and went on unharmed. The people watching this happen assumed he was a god, but nope, Paul was not a god. (I don’t remember references but Ms Google says that story is in Acts 28). Another one is the challenge to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (not to cancer, but to God) which is our spiritual worship. (Ro 12) And the third is the phrase we repeated so often in Mom’s hospice journey “Yay though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (how do you like that King James English) (Psalm 23) and sometimes it’s only a shadow, no actual threat… like the hawk that is too far away to actually see the bunny on the ground – but the bunny sees the shadow of the hawk, freaks out, and runs for cover! Other times that shadow of death is quite close (as it was for my mom at the end). Either way, a shadow is not the thing itself. There is no question that we perceive a shadow instinctively and naturally, and that is not a fun feeling. Recognizing that, I still believe that my times are in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15) and I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13). These were the little lanterns that lit my path today.

Sending love your way if your day was lovely, and solidarity if it wasn’t. There is no wrong way to suffer, friend. Just survive. That is all.


13 responses to “Gratitude”

  1. Dennis R. Kuhns Avatar
    Dennis R. Kuhns

    Thanks, Carmen, well said..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet Marshman Avatar
    Janet Marshman

    Carmen, your blog is thoughtful and will shed light not only for yourself, but to others. The Rainbow color of your experience is shining through. Maybe there is visual art to be created from these daily experiences? A daily piece of yarn representing each experience. Sending thoughts of energy and patience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carmen Shenk Avatar

      Love this idea! Maybe now while I have energy from the steroids I can get the loom wound up with a new warp. Such an interesting idea! Thanks!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Cindy Avatar

    Wonderful post! You are off to a great start in your recovery journey. I too have respect and gratitude for the doctors and nurses and technicians who cared for me during my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment; their kindness helped immensely. Take care, I am proud of you!


  4. Ruth Avatar

    My sister in law has wriitten down all that helped her during Chemo. I‘m afraid it‘s in German but maybe your Austrian can look over it and translate it and you will see if it is important for you…
    Blessingd to you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ruth Avatar

      Tipps für die Chemo- und Bestrahlungszeit
      1. Allgemein
      • vielBewegunganfrischerLuft
      (am besten täglich, egal wie man sich fühlt)
      • keinedirekteSonne(Hautveränderungen!)
      • VitaminD3mitK2,ZinkundSelentäglich
      ( Immunsystem)
      • viel Trinken!  schwemmt Giftstoffe aus
      (grünen Tee lange ziehen lassen; ein walnussgroßes Stück frischen Ingwer in dünne Scheiben schneiden und mit 1l kochendem Wasser übergießen  hilft auch prima gegen Entzündungen im Mund)
      • Ölziehen:morgenseinenEsslöffelOliven-oderLeinöl
      20 min im Mund hin- und herbewegen, dann ausspucken
      • Kurkuma frisch klein geraspelt oder als Pulver (mit einer Prise Pfeffer) ins Essen (geht bei süß und salzig, ist recht geschmacksneutral) oder als Tee wie Ingwer
      ( entzündungshemmend)
      • ZurChemotherapievielzumTrinkenmitnehmen!
      2. Carboplatin + Paclitaxel
      • 1⁄2Stundevor,währendund1⁄2StundenachChemomit Paclitaxel Hände und Füße kühlen (Kühlhandschuhe, Kühlsocken günstig im Internet bestellbar, falls Praxis kein Kühlgerät hat) Polyneuropathie vermeiden!
      • Nagelschutz zum Beispiel mit „desiderm“ Nagelhärter
      • Blasenentzündungvorbeugen/therapierenmitD-Mannose (Pulver zum Auslösen und Trinken, Zucker, der die Bakterien ausspült)
      • Nasenbluten: Inhalieren (Nasendusche greift die Schleimhäute zu stark an) und Bepanthen-Nasensalbe

      • Verstopfung(durchdasvieleCortison):Sauerkrautessen oder einfach den Saft trinken
      • am Chemotag + 2 Tage danach: nur leichte Kost (Suppen, etc., nichts Blähendes, keine Rohkost)
      • Anannasessen,Safttrinkenentzündungshemmend! 3. Epirubicin + Cyclophosphamid
      • nach der Chemo Elektrolytlösung trinken (Muskelkrämpfe möglich)
      • Tabletten gegen die Übelkeit so früh wie möglich nehmen, dass das Gehirn die Übelkeit gar nicht erst speichert.
      • Gegen die Übelkeit „anessen“ (wird nicht vom Magen, sondern vom Gehirn aus gesteuert): mehrere kleine Mahlzeiten
      • offeneStellenimMund:Meridol-Mundspüllösungzum Desinfizieren nach den Mahlzeiten, Panthenol- Lutschtabletten zur Heilung, Ingwer- und Salbeitee trinken
      • keineGrapefruitundPomeloessen(auchnichtSaft!) Inhaltsstoff, der Chemo hemmt)
      4. Port- und Brust-OP
      Kleidung, die vorne leicht aufzumachen ist, mitnehmen. Nach der OP kann man die Arme nicht hochheben, um sich etwas über den Kopf zu ziehen.
      5. Bestrahlung
      • Weite, leichte Kleidung tragen, wenn möglich kein BH. (die Haut ist gereizt, gerötet, heiß, kann leicht
      aufgescheuert werden) • Fenistil_Gel bei Juckreiz
      Fragen? Monika Maurer, 0631-3614699, monika.maurer@mailbox.org

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Carmen Shenk Avatar

        This is amazing. Xaver has read it to me and will write it out so we can go shopping. I’m so grateful for the info!! Thanks so much! Love from both of us!! 💜💙💚


    2. Carmen Shenk Avatar

      Oooo danke vielmals! 💜💙💚


  5. Kendra Gehman Avatar
    Kendra Gehman

    Yum. Reading this was so tasty. When is the next chemo?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. KENDRA GEHMAN Avatar

        I’d sure like to learn what was shared in the German tips response.
        A job for Xaver to interpret for us. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Carmen Shenk Avatar

        Yes, he read it to me and translated on the fly. Lots of good tips about how to get through this season, and I will ask him to make a list for me. One thing mentioned was pineapple, and so I have added fresh pineapple to my green juices and as a snack. What a treat! 💕


  6. Ginny Hartzler Avatar
    Ginny Hartzler

    Got my computer back before I buy another, and have been catching up with you. You are so strong, creative, and inspirational! Your light is stronger than ever!! Prayers always.

    Liked by 1 person

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