It was a huge mixture of emotions to go visit Jen in Oregon last week. I knew that I wanted to be there for the first round of chemo, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I was scared, nervous and oddly excited to see my new family away from family.
I admit that I was shocked to see how thin Jen has really gotten. At 6 feet tall, her bony little arms and legs truly startled me. She still looks as gorgeous as ever, but up until now, it’s been kind of easy to pretend that she’s not sick. Not anymore.
The drive to Portland was long and quiet. Jake and I in the front and Jen snuggled in the back. Everyone was lost in their own thoughts. None of us knew what to expect.
The cancer center smells funny. Like a hospital, but more chemical-y. You can’t trick yourself to think it’s a hotel, it just has a medical feeling. There are big reclining easy chairs all over the place, and lots and lots of old people. I think that surprised me the most, so few younger people. Jen and another girl were the youngest there. It’s weird to think at 36 that we are considered young, but it’s true. We have a lot of life yet to live.
I felt very honored to be able to be included in the conversation with Jen’s oncologist. It was a serious talk. The chemo treatment is aggressive because ovarian cancer likes to come back. What they cut out during surgery WILL grow back if the chemo doesn’t kill it. So Jen needs to do chemo each week, for two weeks on, one week off. For 18 weeks. It’s a LOT. She does an IV as well as a port in her abdomen. They need to fill her abdomen with chemotherapy to kill all the cancer ‘flecks’ in there.
Jen is amazing. She doesn’t flinch when they stick her with a needle. Even in her stomach, which made ME wince. The only thing that she was affected by was the numbing spray! The chemo took hours and we were the last to leave. We chatted, joked, texted and were sometimes just quiet. I’m so happy that she has such a good support system with Jake, her dad and Patti there. They are just as strong as Jen is, which is important.
The drive back home was uncomfortable for Jen. Her stomach was distended from all the drugs pumped in there. She just felt ‘full’. It made for a very long day – 6 hours in the car and 7 of chemo. I honestly think that will be the worst part, especially with winter coming and having to travel through the mountains.
The next few days were spent watching a lot of Bravo and the E! channel. Jen introduced me to all her favorite shows and when she wasn’t sleeping, we giggled at all the silly reality shows. Dirty Soap anyone? I’m addicted now, and probably annoyed Jen with all my ‘who’s that?’ and ‘what is she mad about?’.
I just puttered around the house. Played with the boys, talked to Jake. He made me watch American Restoration one day but I don’t understand why you’d want to make a cool looking old wagon into a brand-new looking one!
On my last night, Cheryl came over and made tacos for everyone. We had some beers and hung out and just talked. The boys spent about an hour making the most AWESOME Angry Birds restaurant with menus, fancy table setting and actual food. I got the ‘special’ cupcake because Cohen and I are getting married someday.
My last day was bittersweet. Jen had made it through the chemo without throwing up. She was actually awake and feeling a bit better. I was so happy for those things but so sad to be leaving. I love my friends and family in Calgary, but right now my heart is in Oregon.