Drugs, Hugs and Losing My Jugs: A Breast Cancer Journal - May 21, 2015 - Drugs and Hugs


This is the seventh entry in a 31-day Breast Cancer Awareness Month exclusive series featuring the real journal entries of breast cancer survivor, Jessica Sliwerski. Read the previous entry here.

The pharmacy fucked up yesterday.

I went to take my steroid this morning, which is something I’m required to do on day 0 (the day before chemo) and it wasn’t in my drug arsenal.

I started to panic since the drug is supposed to be taken at set times. I triple checked the multiple vials I picked up yesterday from the pharmacy, Googling their ridiculous names and hoping one of them may be a generic version of my steroid. No luck. Frustrated, I let out a stream of expletives and then I started to cry.

This was exactly what I did not need at 6:45 a.m. in the morning the day before chemo.

I called the pharmacy but they were closed. I left a frantic message for the pharmacist. I then called the breast center and it was also closed. I rifled through the stack of doctors’ business cards in my purse and found none of them had phone numbers other than the general number for the breast center. I fired off a politely pissed email to my oncology nurse, telling her I didn’t have my steroids and then complaining about the absurdity of not being able to reach a single person.

There wasn’t even an answering machine for me to bitch to! What if this were one of the myriad emergencies she warned me about in chemo class that necessitates an immediate call? Like, what if I ran out of Magic Mouthwash? Who the fuck would I call?

I was in a full-fledged roid rage and I hadn’t even started my fucking steroids.

Just before 9 a.m. the pharmacy called me back to say they had my prescription. Relieved, I scrambled to get ready and found that, including my shower, it took me less than 15 minutes.

Choosing an outfit was the biggest time suck. I decided skinny jeans, a white crew neck tee, a grey sweater and my ninja boots (Nike high tops) would best compliment my newly androgynous self. I added my Kate Spade infinity scarf (a post-mastectomy gift from a friend) because it has a pop of pink and because I knew my newly naked neck would be cold.

I shyly peeked at myself in the mirror and was surprised to feel weirdly powerful. And it felt… good. I grabbed Poppy and headed out the door.

My pharmacy is a sweet little neighborhood pharmacy on the main drag in Brooklyn Heights. I started going there for prescriptions when another more well-known pharmacy’s technicians pissed me off with their “go fuck yourself” attitudes.

My new pharmacy’s bedside manner is superb, and when we were dealing with a bunch of bullshit after Poppy was born, they were absolutely wonderful. Because it’s a small pharmacy, they intimately know all their customers.

When I showed up the pharmacist immediately commented on my hair. “You cut your hair,” she said.

My eyes welled up with tears. “Are you OK?” And that question, that stupid fucking question, broke me.

I shook my head and started sobbing. “I saw your prescription,” she said. “Oh, no… I know what this is for. Do you need a hug?” I nodded. And then she embraced me and she just held me while I cried into her shoulder.

Side bar: If you read my Bustle piece about how to help your friends with cancer, then you’re probably thinking I need to just stay the fuck away from drug stores. And you’re probably right. But then I wouldn’t have gotten a really good hug.

And today I needed that hug.

Time and again throughout this stupid, messed up ordeal I have been reminded people are kind.

This morning I was reminded again, and thinking about my hug, as well as the momentous celebration last night with my friends, has lifted my spirits tremendously.

Jessica Sliwerski playing with Penelope on playmat
Penelope and me: This is my happiest place right now. When I’m with her I can momentarily forget about everything else that’s happening. There’s no time to be sad because she fills me with so much joy.

I will kick the shit out of cancer because this ninja betch draws strength from kindness (and chocolate and almond butter and coconut ass water).

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All photos courtesy of Jessica Sliwerski


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