When I was told by my Oncologist that I needed chemotherapy in hopes of shrinking the tumor before operating I was stunned. Going into this scary journey I did not know there were different types of chemotherapies nor did I know there were different kinds of breast cancers. I thought cancer treatment was cookie cutter and the same for everyone. I had never seen anyone go through it. I honestly believed I’d go in for treatment, it might hurt a little and then I’d resume my normal life… I was so naive and so wrong… on so many levels.
I elected to have my treatment at UCLA Santa Monica because of its ocean view. I figured I needed the right environment to help me get through the fact that I’d be sitting for hours with poison pumping through my veins. My family, friends, and co-workers did not allow me to go alone. With them surrounding me like a fighter headed to the ring, I walked in nervous (not knowing what to expect) but confident because I wasn’t alone… Team Marenda was right there with me.
Some people are very private and strong enough to do chemo in silence and solitude. I respect those that can. However, as a deeply analytical person with a tendency for over thinking things, I needed to be with my loved ones… their presence made be braver and stronger from the moment I checked in, to having my temperature, height, and blood pressure checked and for every time the nurses came with iv bags, needles, questions, and instructions. That 1st Chemo was stressful, sad, and surreal. I sat there for 4 or more hours contemplating how the hell I had gotten there and where I was going. It was like I was sitting in a corner outside of my body watching everything happen. I sat in the chemo infusion chair looking out of the window in my own world trying to be responsive while my loved ones did everything they could to keep me connected and encouraged. It was the first time I’d felt so alone surrounded by people… I was slowly slipping away. The only pain I felt was from when they took blood, put in and took out the I.V. and from my heart breaking with the realization that I had breast cancer. I was told to come back the following day for a Neulasta shot.