cacophany

Usually the chemo room is fairly quiet. There’s a low murmur of conversation, punctuated occasionally by beeps and alarms from the machines. Yesterday, however, it was not quiet.

Shortly after I sat down, as I was digging into “Game of Thrones” on my Kindle, two women came in. They were talking about yoga pants and tofu in what is referred to by those of us with kids as “outside voice.” They were SO LOUD. They were talking like two soldiers in the middle of a fire fight.

I put my book away, so suddenly and completely pissed off at the world that I launched Spotify on my phone and put it on the punk rock radio station. I briefly considered singing along to “Beat on the Brat” by the Ramones at the top of my voice, but decided I might scare people.

Then the snoring guy came in.

Two weeks ago, I watched snoring guy snore so loud that he made the kid beside me jump. Several nurses laughed. Yesterday, he came in, and he was even louder.

At first I thought the backhoes outside the window were making the racket, but I realized that the backhoe wasn’t moving at all. I heard snoring guy OVER the punk rock station. I realized too late that I could have recorded him. I know that’s not very nice, but it was honestly so funny. At a certain point, don’t snorers get so loud they wake themselves? He was still sawing logs when Princess arrived.

Princess is like a pop diva. She made another patient vacate her favorite chair, which is actually my favorite chair, so had I picked it yesterday, I would have been screwed. She was starting phase two of her chemo treatment with a new drug, which she didn’t understand, even after it was explained twice, petulantly declaring that it had better not make her sick or she was never coming back.

About a month ago, she insisted on maintaining a conversation with an elderly woman who was clearly hard of hearing. She responded to the lady’s continuous confused expression with escalating shouts.


A couple of Saturdays ago, Kaiser Permanente hosted an event called “Oncology on Canvas.” It was designed to be an artistic outlet for patients and their families. I knew I wanted to go, just as I’ve been going to a therapist and to support group meetings, as a way to connect with other people.

I was insecure, though. I’ve never been artistic. I lack perspective and I can barely draw stick figures. I worried for days about what to paint and if I’d even be able to put the vision in my head down on canvas. I was still staring blankly at my canvas when Ryan pulled out his phone and called up a photo of Hilo Bay. I had my inspiration.

It’s not Monet or anything, but it’s surprisingly good, for me. It’s hanging in Honolulu Hale right now, alongside Katie’s and Ryan’s. It’s kind of made me want to take up painting.

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4 responses to “cacophany

  1. I love your painting, Jen. The best part about it is that you let yourself create it… and I recognized Mauna Kea right away. What’s important is that you got past your fear of failure, and warrior that you are, you discovered something really important about yourself. Way to go!!

  2. Crazy People Are Crazy. Sorry you had to put up with the arrogance and disrespect there. Outside voices indeed!

    As for your painting, it’s obvious it’s a place you care deeply about. Have you been able to keep up on your photography as well? Visual arts seem well suited to you.

    Keep on keepin’ on, Jen. You’re doing an amazing job. Still wish I could hug you…

  3. Jen, I know you don’t know me from a hole in the wall but you inspire me. While going through my own ordeal here with brain tumors and fear, it’s nice to see how others deal with these kind of illness’. Hugs, Lisa

  4. I love your painting! Especially that orange boat against the blue water–good use of complementary color there 😉 What a crazy time in the chemo room, what else can you do but laugh! *hugs*

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