52 weeks from today, my little boy Cub will be sitting bare-chested in a vinyl therapy chair. He and I will put on little yellow masks as a clinic nurse opens a sterile packet containing gloves, cleanser, and a 3/4 inch needle with a tail made of narrow plastic tubing.
He’ll squirm while she wipes off the numbing cream I applied to his skin before we left home.
He’ll whimper as she scrubs his skin — skin chemo has left raw and neuropathic.
After the cleanser dries, he’ll straighten his back and jut out his chest while holding a raggedy little stuffed elephant in his lap. “Don’t count! Don’t count!” he’ll say anxiously as the nurse brings the needle close.
“Okay, I won’t count,” she’ll say, pushing the length of the access needle through his skin and into the silicone medium of his titanium port.
She’ll draw a tube of blood. Waste.
She’ll draw another tube of blood. Labs.
She’ll flush the line while Cub sucks apple juice through a straw because he can taste the saline rushing into his bloodstream. Taster.
We’ll spend a few hours waiting for his chemo to be prepared and delivered, and after another flush and more juice, the chemo will be introduced to Cub’s line, beginning its slow drip down and around several feet of tubing into his little body.
We’ve done this before.
On this day, my son will have been receiving chemotherapy for over 2 1/2 years.
It’s not his first chemotherapy treatment, but on this day 52 weeks from now, it will be his last. He will ring the bell victoriously, and we will spend the rest of our lives celebrating every little thing.
52 weeks from today, and my mommy heart can hardly wait.