After my first treatment of Carboplatin and Gemcitabine, I felt physically very bad for 3 days. By the end of Shabbat I had such a burst of energy I just wanted to tie on my running shoes and get outside and I did. Obviously nobody looks forward to receiving a therapy that's going to make them feel so sick. As advised to me by, Dr. Garcia, of USC Norris Cancer Center, I'm following a fasting regimen each chemo session. I begin the fast on Sunday, for 48 hours before chemo. I continue the fast on the day of chemo and for 24 hours after chemo finishes. That's 4 days of not eating. I drink plenty and can eat up to 200 calories per day which I limit to celery, lettuce, clear broth, tea, and water. It's not easy but it's also not horrendous and it helps me feel that I'm contributing to weakening the cancer cells and that's an empowering feeling. I can weaken cancer! Even so... I absolutely dreaded the countdown to chemo and had a pretty strong feeling that my blood counts were going to be low. The real test is walking up the stairs to the 7th floor Oncology Day Ward. If I'm puffed and out of breath, I know chemo is not happening.
Tuesday morning, I had blood drawn from my port and then we sat down to wait. Surrounded by David, my friend, Gaby, my SIL, Briana, and friends, Dena and Jeremy, we made small talk and then Gaby told me she'd prepared me a gift. Part of the gift was in a box and the other part was in her voice. My friend, Gaby, has the voice of an angel and after asking the other patients if they minded, she looked straight into my eyes and belted out, The Power of Love, by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I don't know if anyone got through the song without tears. I think I might've squeezed Gaby's hand the whole song. Then the young woman, A., next to us, asked Gaby if she would sing some Celine Dion for her father, Z., who was also receiving chemotherapy. Gaby sang a few songs for A.'s father and tears rolled down his face as he hummed along. Everyone in the Chemo Lounge seemed to enjoy the impromptu Gaby concert including my beloved, Professor Cherny, and the nurses.
A while later, one of the nurses came to let me know that my blood counts were too low for me to receive chemotherapy and I might have cheered loudly. I know that I need treatment for cancer. I know, but the day wasn't wasted. We brought some happiness and light to the ward with Gaby's voice. That's The Power of Love.