Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Letter To Me, One Year Ago Today

Dear Nella:

It's me, I mean, it's you from a year in the future.  I know you're starting Chemo today, and I know you're really scared.  I wanted to tell you it will be ok.

First of all, the baby is doing really well.  As I/you type this, she's army crawling around trying to stuff her beautiful fat cheeks with choking hazards.  Chemo is least of her safety concerns.

Second of all, yes, your skin is going to stop hurting.  You're going to wear clothes without weeping inside and you won't be covered in sores and scabs and scars anymore.  You're going to just throw on any old clothes, even jeans, and you won't have to figure out what will hurt the least and still cover up as much gross embarrassing skin as possible.  You won't even notice or think about your skin except to notice that "Hey, I'm wearing clothes like a person and I totally forgot!".  You have scars, but you don't really care, because you just don't.

I know you probably want some advice.  I know you're scared about what you'll see today.  We hate medical stuff and you're afraid that everyone will notice that you're trying to look at the ceiling without looking at all of the needles in everyone's arms everywhere.  You'll get over it.  You will never, however, be able to not look at the ceiling in the Phlebotomy area.  But not to worry, that doesn't mean you're a wimp.

You're scared about how it will feel and if you'll be tough enough to handle it and still make everyone think you're good at having cancer.  Please stop thinking that.  There is no such thing as being good at having cancer and there is no such thing as being bad at having cancer.  You're just a pregnant lady with cancer.  It's wildly inappropriate for you to put that kind of pressure on yourself.

Which brings me to my next point.  If something hurts or is uncomfortable TELL SOMEONE RIGHT AWAY.  Don't second guess yourself and don't tell yourself you're being oversensitive and that other people go through worse things in their lives.  Yes, they do, but you've given birth 4 times without drugs and you have a decent idea about whether or not you are in discomfort.  Please save us from a lot of needless suffering.  Please tell them when you're hurting instead of apologizing and explaining it away.  Chemo isn't supposed to hurt.  Well, the needle part hurts, but after that when they push the saline and start the bags it shouldn't hurt at all.  When they push drugs into your IV with a syringe it should NOT hurt.  You have ornery veins and when your chemo hurts it's because your line isn't in right, it's not because you're a whiny over-sensitive worthless baby.   Those nurses have their jobs because of sick people like you.  You are not inconveniencing them.  Tell them it hurts.

Chemo tastes bad.  Really bad.  Actually the saline they flush your lines with tastes bad and one of your drugs (the one that's usually the last push) tastes like...methane.  I guess that's the most delicate way to put it.  It tastes kind of like toots.  You will really need Jolly Ranchers for the saline and the toot one.  When this is all over the smell of Jolly Ranchers will make you physically wretch which may not seem like a big deal because we always thought those were overrated anyway but kids eat them so you will have to smell it sometimes.

I almost forgot--be serious about germs please.  Please be serious about germs and don't care what anyone thinks.  The baby is ok but you had her early because you were not serious about germs.  Let people laugh at you and judge you and then go ahead and be serious about germs.

Yes you will make it to Owen's first baseball game of the season tonight and no you won't throw up in a garbage can.  You'll just feel gross and weird but it'll pass and it will be bizarre to think of what just happened and to realize nobody there has any clue.

Oh and you know that thing you want God to use your cancer to fix?  It's not happening today or this week but don't give up.  You might just have cancer because you have cancer and that's ok too.  You're going to learn a lot.

That's all for now.  I know you know it will be ok.  You know it will be ok because of statistics and science.  You know it will be ok if you don't land in the good part of the statistics because it will just still be ok because God.  I want you to know the baby is ok.  The kids are ok.  Michael is ok.

I'll try to write to you before the next Chemo.  Be gentle to yourself.  God loves you.



  1. Nella, I am so grateful that you've continued writing. It's been humbling to read along your journey with you and I'm glad you're still sharing it with us. Thank you. -Theresa

  2. Permit me a moment of sap, if you will. I'm so proud to know you and be your friend. Much love.

    (And praying for that intention. Whatever it is.)

  3. Such a great letter, you are a strong, open and honest writer. I respect you so much you have no idea. And if it makes you feel the tiniest bit better, I haaate Jolly Ranchers too!


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