A vi relates:

As I already explained, cancer is typically treated with something called chemotherapy — chemo, for short. Chemo is a medicine that attacks all fast-growing cells in your body, including cancerous cells.

Chemo is very aggressive, and takes a huge toll on a patient’s body, especially on children. Most chemo patients get very nauseous and feel extremely exhausted and weak during and after treatment.

“Can you describe your chemo experience?” I ask Avi.

“I used to go to the hospital about twice a week,” he says. “And most days, I was there from about nine in the morning until five in the afternoon. Some days I had to come home with a chemo pump as well.

“On a typical chemo day,” he explains, “I would come in and get a bed in the day hospital [a room for patients only in the hospital for the day]. The first thing that happened is the nurse would draw my blood to make sure my blood counts were high enough for me to be able to get chemo.”

“Were your numbers ever too low?” I ask, thinking of how difficult it must be if a patient is told they came to the hospital for no reason.

“There were times when my counts came back too low,” Avi says. “And it was very frustrating!” He continues. “If the counts came back and they were good, the nurse ordered the chemo and connected me to the chemo pump.”

Before he continues, Avi explains that most long-term chemo patients (himself included) have a surgical procedure done to insert a “port,” before they begin chemo. The port is inserted on the top of the chest and used to “access” the patient during chemo. That means that whenever needles had to be inserted to draw blood or to give chemo, the needles were inserted into the port. Having a port prevents patients from having to get stuck by needles numerous times.

“Before I came in for chemo, I’d use a numbing cream on my port,” he explains. “That made my port numb so when they attached the needle [to hook him up to the pump, similar to getting an IV] it didn’t hurt.

“While I got chemo,” he says, “I felt very weak and nauseous. Most patients are prescribed a lot of anti-nausea medications, which I took as well. But I still felt very nauseous.”

Avi shares one of the crazier parts of his experience:

“Since I got chemo twice a week, and nausea from chemo lasts for a few days, I was pretty much nauseous all week,” he says. “The interesting thing is: I couldn’t actually throw up. It sounds crazy, but let me explain. I’m sure you remember that since my esophagus wasn’t connected, I couldn’t throw up through my mouth. When the doctors disconnected my esophagus, they made a little hole in my neck to allow saliva to get out.”

Isn’t it crazy how people don’t even think about something so “small” like saliva going down?! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 695)