The People of Chemo – Part 2

My treasured beads from Carmen The Bead Lady

My treasured beads from Carmen The Bead Lady

Yesterday there was a new puzzle. This one was a hard one, and I was only able to place a few pieces. While I worked on it, I thought about Carmen.

Carmen is the bead lady. She usually comes on Wednesday for chemo, so I’ve only seen her a couple times. Her son brings her, and he carries all her stuff, including a big bag with her beads.

She makes necklaces and bracelets out of these big bright colorful beads. When she comes into the Cancer Center she gives a new bracelet or necklace to each of her care providers and then sometimes hands them out to fellow patients as well. I was the happy recipient of a bracelet one day while I was getting my chemo.

After she left, I talked with one of the nurses. Carmen’s son had told her he goes to Michael’s Craft store and buys big bags of beads for her so she can make all of these strings of beads. She works on them all the time and gets great joy out of giving them as gifts. So, if she offers them to anyone, they know not to turn them down.

I think about that – how she is fighting cancer and uses her time to make something just to brighten another person’s day. I have all I can do to just make it through my own struggles. I don’t have a lot of extra to give to others, or to worry about much more than myself. Carmen must have a much bigger heart than I do.

During the 4th of July week, I had treatment on Wednesday instead of my usual Thursday because of the holiday week, and I expected to see Carmen. While I was there, one of the nurses got a call and she told me afterwards that Carmen wouldn’t be able to come to chemo that day because she had some sort of medical issue and had been taken to the hospital.

I have not yet heard how it turned out, although yesterday I was told she wouldn’t be back for a while. They can’t, of course, tell me anymore than that. I said a prayer for her and her son and I thought of the beautiful string of beads at home.


Yesterday, a lady sat next to me in the treatment room. We barely talked but exchanged a few things, like – “geez I hate to be a kleenex hog but I really need this box next to me”. (There are a ton of things that chemo does to your body and your life that you wouldn’t know about unless you’ve gone through it. 😦 )

A few minutes into her chemo treatment, she suddenly exclaimed to the lady who had come with her that she was feeling very flushed. Her companion called out to the nurse who came right over. She was having a reaction to the Taxol (so Taxol is actually a tree product. See: Taxol). She had pins and needles throughout her body, and the nurses stopped her I.V. immediately while someone ran for the doctor. The doctor and residents came rushing in and I asked if I should move, so one of the nurses helped me relocate across the room  to give the medical personnel  more room.

They checked her blood pressure and gave her some medicine (not sure what) and watched over her. I could hear her gasping and then vomiting 😦

I felt so bad for her and her companion and wanted somehow to comfort her, but of course, it would require me to drag my I.V. trailer across the room and I would be in the way of the doctors, residents, and nurses that were coming and going as they tried to help her. Then Jane (a staff member) came in and patted and rubbed the companion’s back and asked if she was okay. The nurses and staff here are so incredibly caring. As a cancer patient- you really really need that.

After a bit things calmed down and she seemed to be resting. But, damn! This was supposed to be her second treatment of Taxol (usually you are given 4 of them total for breast cancer). It may be she has to discontinue the Taxol. Not good. I said a prayer for her and hope for the best. Seems I am praying a lot lately.

3 thoughts on “The People of Chemo – Part 2

  1. Pingback: What is Taxol? | Gina Karasek

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