I started watching a movie tonight called 'The Bucket List' (directed by Rob Reiner, starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson) and it dredged up some stuff I had forgotten, some good and some bad.
Corporate billionaire Edward Cole and working class mechanic Carter Chambers have nothing in common except for their terminal illnesses. While sharing a hospital room together, they decide to leave it and do all the things they have ever wanted to do before they die according to their bucket list. In the process, both of them heal each other, become unlikely friends, and ultimately find the joy in life.
The first 30 minutes or more take place in a hospital room while both Carter (Freeman) and Cole (Nicholson) are going through chemo. I haven't thought about my chemotherapy experience for a fair while, but the portrayal of the effects of chemotherapy was pretty much spot on.
My memories of chemo are quite mixed but three things stand out in my mind: Lots of time sitting in a hospital bed, lots of time spent spewing your guts up and lots of time dealing with people tip-toeing around your situation. Those are the three things I never want to go through again. The dead time laying in that hospital bed and the massive stomach muscle exercises involved in spewing your guts up for a week straight. The people tip-toeing around being careful of saying the wrong thing was probably the worst. The simple fact of people not saying what they want to, or trying to make me feel better only seemed to accentuate the bad in the situation.
It is coming up to 8 years since my first chemotherapy treatment (March 29th, 2000). I don't think I have the survivor mentality that most cancer survivors I have met seem to possess, but I don't see making 8 years as a milestone (does that make me a traitor? :) ). I see it as 8 years since I had a life changing experience.
My wife, Donna, went through the whole experience beside me and was the steady point that helped keep me on the right track. She was only my fiance back then, of course. Donna saw me at my worst over that 5 months and never once tried to tip toe around me. Always honest and always there for me.
But back to the movie and the point of this blog post, Jack Nicholson's character, Edward Cole, had a very funny line early on:
"I love the smell of chemo in the morning"
I googled the quote and found a cancer survivor's merchandise website. Found some amusing graphics that they put on a range of merchandise there:
But anyway, take a look at the movie, it ain't half bad.