Updated: Nov 30, 2019
The first step of treatment was to have a device called a port surgically implanted in my chest. This would eliminate the use of needles to deliver the chemotherapy drugs to my vein. Charles had to work on the day of surgery, so I asked my uncle to drive me to the hospital. With all the cancer stuff we had gone through in the last few weeks, I wanted to keep him from burning out as much as possible.
I checked in by myself. A nurse led me to a room with a bed and told me to change into a paper gown with a hose mechanism that blew warm air on my body. I was then instructed to pee in a cup to make sure I wasn't pregnant. Ha!
Wouldn't that be the icing on the cake? "Oh look, the patient is almost forty-nine years old, riddled with cancer AND pregnant."
My intestinal issues did not make me feel sexy so... unless we'd run into a miraculous baby Jesus situation, I was pretty sure pregnancy was not something to worry about.
What was worrisome was I couldn't pee. Finally, I produced a dribble and a half, and luckily that satisfied my latest medical requirements.
Fast forward through the port surgery. When I woke up, I found myself in a big, open room full of patients in exposed hospital beds. My friend Michelle showed up with pizza, which was a godsend considering the hospital staff had offered me only Sierra Mist and graham crackers. After the pizza, my next stop was the infusion clinic for the first of two iron infusions. The space was huge, furnished with hospital-style recliners occupied by patients all struggling with some version of the disease I had been diagnosed with inside them.
This was the room where I would receive chemotherapy for the next twelve weeks--what I had already chosen to rename "sparkling infusions."
I'm not going to lie, this whole thing felt crazy. Me, in this place? Cancer? Chemotherapy? But I had to get my mind right if I wanted any real chance to get better.
After the iron infusion, Michelle took me home to recover and fortify myself for what was to come. After all, with my newly placed vein-access implant, I felt like a Replicant from the movie, Blade Runner. I looked human, appeared to function like a human, and yet here was this gadget visibly pushing my skin up from the inside, bulging like a robot beetle. To get through the grind ahead, in my surgically modified, cancer-riddled body, I needed to believe I was not a part-organic machine with a preprogrammed life span, but an elusive yet organic being, a superhero unicorn.
If you find yourself with cancer, you've got to be flexible.
An important side-note:
I think one of the most important tools in working your way through a health crisis is community support. As soon as we knew what I had, Charles started reaching out to our various communities, including air guitar people all over the world. I have never felt as loved as I had in the first few months after my diagnosis.
When you hear cancer can be both a blessing and a curse, this is part of what that means. This community that my husband rallied, banded together to support us energetically and financially, which took on the name "Team Picante." For example, my friend Jason created an online shop where you can purchase items bearing my "Kara Picante" logo, anything from leggings to pillows, with the profits going directly to us. This was a real life-saver for Charles and I, because by then I could no longer work.
The little messages and cards that I received randomly from people were no less valuable. To this day, as I write this, they are still coming in, often when I need it most. A life line. For this, I am eternally grateful. Just thinking about it fills my heart with so much love it could really make me gag. Weird, huh? So full of love that I almost gross myself out...Going back to not feeling worthy, If I could wear a sign, it would read: "Work In Progress."