I was so happy to have both of my sisters with me for my 5th treatment. Amy, my older sister, drove me to the hospital and sat through all of my preliminary appointments. She had to leave shortly after I was sent to my chemo room. My younger sister, Melyssa, got there just before my treatment started and stayed through the whole thing. Then she drove me home after. They both wrote a little bit about their experience:
“I thought I knew what to expect when I drove to Westchester hospital in order to sit with my sister during her chemo treatment. I knew it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience seeing her go through that. I knew they would have to put an IV in her port and deliver the chemo through it. My job was to sit with her and keep her company and give her moral support. However I did not realize just how much that experience would affect me. I knew she was sick after each treatment and she was really worn out from them. I knew it was a painful experience for her and the whole ordeal was just unimaginable, but after seeing it first hand I got a whole new perspective of it. The treatment I sat with her through was one of her worst ones. First we had to sit and wait over 2 hours just to get a room where the treatment was delivered. Then when we finally did get in the room they could not get blood to draw back from her port. They needed to see blood in order to be sure that the chemo was being delivered to her veins and nowhere else in her body. They tried flushing it multiple times which she hated. She told me she would get an awful taste in her mouth every time they did that so she had brought mints with her to try to mask it. They must have gone through at least 20 flushes trying to get her port to open up without success. My poor sister went through so many mints trying to avoid the taste she hated so much and after all that they still couldn’t get blood. They tried putting in a different medication to see if that would open it up and that didn’t work either. They had her sit in all different positions and nothing was working. This was when my sister started to cry. Crystal is a very strong person who rarely cries, especially in front of people. I could tell she was embarrassed that she was crying and this made me tear up. Seeing her like that was not easy but I also knew if she saw me tearing up it would make it worse so I tried to hide it. I told her to let it out and cry all she needed but I knew that was not what she wanted to do. Finally my other sister Amy started singing a silly song which made crystal laugh. I was very happy she thought to do that because I was not able to think of anything to say that would calm her down and I was very upset with myself that I couldn’t think of anything. That was supposed to be my job. I was supposed to give her moral support and be there for her and I didn’t even know how to make her feel better. It was honestly a very helpless feeling. Finally a different nurse came in and was able to get a tiny bit if blood. They then proceeded to give her the first round of medication through the IV. About half way through the nurse came back in to deliver a different medication and once again could not get blood. They had to go through the entire process again trying to get her port to work. They even tried putting in a longer needle to see if that would work. This caused my sister a lot of pain and that pain from the needle lasted for quite a bit of time. This did not work either. They then tried a medication that sits in her port for 30 minutes which was supposed to dissolve anything blocking it. While they were doing this they decided to put an IV in her arm in order to continue the chemo process. I remember feeling angry because they went through all that for over an hour just to end up going through her arm anyway. I remember thinking to myself “why didn’t they just do this after the first 20 minutes of realising it wasn’t working?” But I am not a doctor and don’t know the reason for everything that they do. After about 30 minutes I could see a significant change in crystal. She was getting sleepy and very uncomfortable. I could tell she was starting to feel very sick from the treatment. I again felt helpless. I knew at that point there was nothing I could do. No words I could say or actions I could do would help her. I could not take her sickness away. I didn’t know if trying to talk to her or help her would just be annoying because I know when I’m sick I just want to lay there and not talk to anyone. So I just sat there coloring in her adult coloring book because that’s what she wanted me to do. When it was Finally over And I Could take her home I could tell just getting out of her chair was a struggle for her. Walking to the car was even worse. You could see that every step she took was painful. She was a completely different person from the time she walked in to the hospital to the time she walked out. Chemo had really taken a toll on her and this was the first time I was actually seeing first hand just how sick these treatments were making her. Even the car ride home I kept seeing her rearranging herself in order to get comfortable but I could tell nothing was working. It was an hour drive home and I knew I couldn’t speed, but I wanted to get her home so badly so that she could just lay down in her bed and be as comfortable as she could be. That felt like the longest drive I ever made… I couldn’t even imagine how she felt about it. After getting her home and driving home myself I sat there thinking about it. I knew my sister was struggling with these treatments but actually seeing her go through it was a huge eye-opening experience. I only went there once and only had to sit there for hours once and that’s all I had to do was sit there. She has to do this every other week and has to deal with the medications and the pain. Just the amount of time it takes to do the whole process is annoying, but going through that so many times while feeling as sick as she does is just unimaginable. I feel so bad for everyone battling this terrible disease and I just can’t wait for her treatments to be over with so she can go back to being her happy healthy self and go back to living her active lifestyle. She was always out doing something. She loved to workout and go hiking and stay active and healthy. She deserves to be able to do that again. Crystal and everyone else battling this awful disease are so strong. I pray she will never have to experience something like this ever again. No one deserves to have to go through something like that.”
Here’s what Amy had to say:
“Wow we went from family vacation to fun girls/friends weekend then straight to Sloan. It was an eventful week that unfortunately ended with a chemo treatment for my sister. After a 4 hour car ride and several more hours of waiting for Crystal to get started with her treatment, finally we got called in. As the nurse flushed her port over and over Crystal had to eat a half a bag of mints to get through the gross taste. It was so difficult to see her in this painful and sad state. It is one thing to hear the details of what a person is going through, but to be there and see it for your self is a whole other thing. I give my mom a lot of credit for all she has done to support Crystal through this. As for Crystal she is hanging in there and trying to keep her head up and enjoy every moment she can. Love you!!”
Finally, here’s my take on this same treatment:
This was the best chemo treatment so far! My sister Amy and I spent all weekend at a lake house with some friends. It was perfect and just what I needed to clear my mind. We kayaked, biked, swam, did some yoga, and most importantly just relaxed and had some laughs with friends. When it came time to leave, we sang some car karaoke during the 4 hour drive to the hospital. I told her it helped keep my mind off of what was about to happen. When we eventually walked into Sloan, I immediately started to feel sick. Amy was so sweet- she played some more music from her phone and we jammed out right in the middle of the waiting room. She sat with me through my lab work, doctors visits, and for hours while we waited for a treatment room to become available. She even left to go get us some pizza while we waited knowing that after my treatments I’m not usually able to eat much for a few days. We got some funny looks eating pizza in the hospital, but it was so worth it.
I was starting to feel anxious again, so I broke out my amazing adult coloring book that a sweet family sent to me. We all started coloring it and made it a goal to finish one page by the end of the day.
Treatment started and it was rough since my port wasn’t functioning, but I’m so glad my sisters were there with me. They made sure I had mints ready whenever I needed them, played music for me, and were just there. Melyssa worked hard to finish up the page in the coloring book and was so accommodating on the drive home. She let me rest, but made sure I knew she was there for me. She also insisted on carrying all of my bags inside for me. I know I say this a lot, but I really am so lucky to have such a supportive family. They all mean the world to me!
I’m ready for number 6… Almost halfway there!