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Musings from the Chemo Chair

Musings from the Chemo Chair

It is Monday. Every other Monday finds me sitting in the chemo chair. Today is that day.

Observations from the Cancer Center

When you walk into my clinic, you are greeted by this huge Chihuly piece. When I first started coming here, I posted a picture of it on Facebook. I thought it was as ugly as could be. I was thoroughly reprimanded by those in the know. Until then, I had never heard of Chihuly.

When I first saw the piece, I thought it was depicting a gigantic malignant tumor with tentacles going everywhere. After all, it IS at a cancer clinic! What’s your opinion about the piece? What do you see? Funny! There are new visitors here today discussing the piece just as I started writing about it. I am getting a kick out of hearing them trying to figure it out. One thinks it looks like a spider web.

A Busy Clinic

It is busy here. As always. Does anyone else find it sad that the cancer clinics are getting busier and busier? There is a flip side to that thought, though. There are lots of us who are outliving our prognoses … so many of us are still filling chairs at the clinic. Hmmm, maybe it isn’t a completely bad thing that the clinic is so full, right?

It is so loud here today. Both waiting rooms are packed with people so there are numerous conversations taking place. I am on sound overload. I tried to listen to some music using my earphones, but adding that to the rest of the noise nearly sent me over the edge.

As I said, I come to the clinic every two weeks. I find it a little strange that I rarely see the same people. Am I the only one on a 2-week rotation?

Have you ever wondered how the nurses, aides, and doctors keep their spirits up? I would think that working at a cancer clinic would be unbelievably difficult. I have a friend who tries to bring the staff little treats every time he comes for an infusion. I wish I was as thoughtful. He said he does it because he appreciates staff so much. Gosh, I do, too, but I just don’t think to bring them anything. Maybe next time.

It must be flu season. Every patient is being asked to wear a mask. My glasses fog up! Ugh! Worse, I feel like I can’t breathe as well and my nose itches!

When I first started coming to this clinic, every person receiving chemo was put into a private room. I loved the privacy. Now, due to staff and space constraints, we have the big room where many of us have to go for treatments. It seems impersonal to me.

Do you get your treatments in a big community room? Do you like it? I know some really enjoy visiting, but I like to use infusion time as quiet time, me time.

What Is Your Appointment Routine?

While I am in the community room, I am all alone in here. I don’t know where all of the folks in the waiting rooms are going. No one else has to have a treatment today? Odd.

An empty infusion center

Do you sleep while you get your treatments? I don’t sleep. I like to play on my phone or tablet or read a magazine. Of course, my time in the infusion room is usually no more than 2 hours (an hour for the pharmacy to fill the order for Opdivo and an hour to infuse). When I was getting chemo, it took far longer to get treatments.

Do you go to your appointments by yourself or do friends or family members accompany you? For the first six or eight months after I was diagnosed my mom and husband went to every appointment with me. When I moved to a different clinic, my mom quit coming along, but my husband continued to accompany me. About a year and a half ago, my husband quit coming with me most of the time. He was recuperating from quadruple bypass surgery (getting older is not for sissies!). He fell out of the habit of going and I discovered I don’t mind coming alone. Anyway, when I have to get my infusion in the community room, there are not many places for him to sit comfortably. Besides, if he isn’t here, I don’t worry about him being bored or uncomfortable.

Well, it turned out my drug was infused over 30 minutes this time instead of an hour. I guess they just changed the protocol. I was lucky today. It only took Pharmacy about 15 minutes to fill the order and then it only took 30 minutes to infuse!

WhooHoo!!! I still have a lot of day left that can be spent somewhere besides the cancer clinic! Thanks for journeying along and keeping me company today!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • MotherT
    1 year ago

    I love hearing about everyone else’s experiences! I think it reinforces that sense of community. I’m almost at 2 years of continuous treatment and this is my 4th type of treatment. Every three weeks I have labs drawn then see my oncologist. She will assess me and determine if I will have my chemo that day. I’m usually in a private room which is my preference, but I will volunteer for the ” big room” if needed. My daughter is a nurse who works in that hospital, so she walks over and works on her computer while we are there. ( She is an IT analyst and builds the programs so she also helps the staff with computer issues while there) I’m grateful to have her as an interpreter and to remind me of the questions I wanted to ask. Pharmacy fills the order for chemo and after several pre-meds I get infused for an hour. All in all I’m there about 4 1/2 hours unless there are major backups somewhere. My husband comes with me on CT scan result days, but he is so antsy I tell him to go home after we talk to the dr. That works well for us. My son has sat with me and my sister. They do this because they don’t want me to be alone and I think it makes them feel useful. I don’t mind, but I don’t mind going alone either. I usually read, play on the phone or tablet and the nurses and I always have something going that cracks them up. There was a joke going around that I only came there for the steroids, so I created a fake group called steroids anonymous and I made buttons for everyone to wear. I have probably 30 ridiculous hats and have been surprising the nurses with a new one each visit. It makes me feel great when they bring a new patient by to see “the hat” and maybe I can get them to smile. It’s all part of the journey and I appreciate all the people I meet along the way and especially you guys here! God bless!

  • Donna Fernandez moderator author
    1 year ago

    MotherT, thank you for sharing your experiences. You made me smile!!! I would love to see some pictures of you and your silly hats 🙂 🙂

    I just know that the nurses (and all staff) love to see you come with your great attitude and desire to spread happiness.

    We are definitely kindred spirits! Good luck on your journey! Keep on smiling and spreading joy!!

  • testlady
    2 years ago

    In the beginning, when my chemo was 6-8 hours, my husband came with me. That did not last and I have been on my own. Originally, it was administered in a community room. My cancer group joined another and a major cancer center was opened. Now infusions are given in a single room with a comfortable lounger, a TV, food and drinks. I try to view this as a spa day! My infusion is 1 hour, but it takes almost 3 hours to receive the medicine. It’s a good thing I’m retired. After this last infusion, I left and outside the treatment area was a woman playing a harp. Does anyone else find that ironic?

  • MotherT
    1 year ago

    I love that you view it as spa day!! Sometimes a gentleman comes and plays a native American flute in the hallway. So hauntingly beautiful!

  • Margot moderator
    2 years ago

    That’s a wonderful perspective to have @testlady – I like the viewing it as a spa day! Thank you so much for sharing with us here. So happy to have you as a part of our community! Thinking of you.

    Margot, Team Member

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