In August 2012 we discovered the cancer had spread to my liver and chemo was once again a part of my daily life. During the time I was doing some volunteer work at The Wellness
Community, I met and became friends with Jenny Fisher. After about an hour with Jenny, I felt like we had known each other forever. We became fast friends. Jenny was there when I needed her most and she jumped right in to VOLUNTEER to go with me for my second round of Chemo in seven years.
She was asking me questions about what it would be like. And I, feeling like I was a pro at this chemo thing, told her “It’s really kind of boring. We go into a chemo lab, they tap into my port and we sit and talk for about 2 hours.”
Jenny was really curious. Although she had worked in many service jobs serving the Cancer Community, she had never experienced the treatment part of cancer. I eased her mind by telling her that is was “really no big deal”. Even I didn’t know how much I needed her by my side that day.
We were in the waiting room, talking, laughing and Jenny was quietly observing the mechanics of an oncology office, asking questions here and there. I was called back to the chemo room and off we went, Jenny to discover the inner workings and me to start the dreaded Chemo. And so the process began.
Jenny was taking it all in and asking me questions, like, “who do some people have an IV and others a port?” And I was being a good teacher and explaining things to her as they were happening. The nurse hooked up my port and started the saline solution, premeds, anti-nausea and steroids. Jenny and I were chatting away. I was so happy to explain things and satisfy Jenny’s curiosity. I barely noticed when the nurse started the chemo. I was in mid-sentence when I suddenly felt very nauseous. I scanned the room for a nearby trash can, and by the time I started to tell Jenny, I suddenly couldn’t breathe. I strangled out, “Jenny, I can’t breathe”. It happened so fast, yet in slow motion.
Jenny, my “volunteer angel”, calmly got up, walked across the room to the nurses’ station and told them I could not breathe. Suddenly there were 3 or 4 nurses by my side. I was having the most excruciating pain, from my knee caps to the top of my neck. I was on fire from the inside out and had two singular thoughts: 1) I was dying. 2) This chemo drug was killing me.
The nurses were working their magic, the pain was starting to subside, my heart rate was returning to normal and by my side were my doctor and Jenny. I had had an anaphylactic allergic reaction to my chemo.
After I was fully flushed and everyone felt confident the Chemo was out of my system, Jenny and I went to lunch. Like nothing had happened. Having a volunteer by your side can be Life Saving.