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My Bag O' Chemo

In my description of the chemo process, I think I've made short shrift of an important aspect of the process -- and the one takes the longest: my adventures with my bag o' chemo.

After the five hours or so of chemo are done for the day, I am sent home with a little bottle attached to my portacath through a long IV cord which is taped on my upper stomach area. Inside the bottle is a balloon filled with chemotherapy meds -- fluorouracil, to be exact. The bottle rests in a navy blue fanny pack-type contraption, secured around my waist. And there it is: my bag o' chemo.

Me and my bag o' chemo (let's just call it "bag o'") hang out for about a day and a half, until the balloon in the bottle has gone completely flat which means my body has soaked up all that chemo. Then, the bottle is detached, my IV line is flushed with saline and blood thinner (to prevent clotting in my port), the needle in my portacath is removed, a tiny band-aid is placed on the tiny hole in my chest where the needle used to be, and I'm a free and unrestricted woman. 

For about the first hour or so after my initial round of chemo, when I was first suited up with my bag o', I was a little sheepish, wondering what people would think and if it was unsightly. I tried to cover it up with my jacket, only to find that I looked even stranger if I did that. I stared at people who passed me, watching their eyes to see if they looked at the tiny tube leading to the navy sack. I thought to myself, how uncool is this?

Then, slowly but surely, I got over it. I decided that this bag o' is a badge of courage. It's helping me beat the hell out of cancer, and it's essential to my fight. I stopped trying to hide it, and just the other day, one of my childhood friends (Nick) bought me a special Great White Shark backpack to carry it in. It may not have started out as the hippest thing for a 28-year old to be saddled with, but I'm quite sure I'm making it pretty darn sweet.

These days, I don't care who sees my bag o', and whenever anybody shows any interest in it, I whip the bottle out and show off the balloon of magic juice. This week, I even worked out two nights in a row with it. Nothing like doing some bench press with your trusty bag o' by your side.

My point about talking about bag o' is that I've found, in fighting this idiotic cancer, I've got no time for embarrassment. If I can't shower for a couple of days because I need to avoid getting my portacath wet, and if that means my hair is not going to look great (actually, it may look pretty rough), then so be it. If I have to walk around with a bag o' secured around my waist like a nerdy tourist, then so be it. If I have to show off my butt to my parents and Will every night as I get my shot of Lovenox, then so be it. 

My only goal -- my singular focus -- is to get better, to become totally and completely well. And there's nothing cooler than that.

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