Dec 17, 2003

Many years ago I sat in a bland, sterile hospital room while various chemicals coursed thru my veins on their mission to destroy any and all cells in a propagating frenzy to take over the nice, clean, helpful cells in my body. Old magazines and TV re-runs were the only comfort. Nurses and an occasional doctor provided minor distractions.

And there was that smell. Sometime prior to my appointment the room was always cleaned with some kind of faux lemon cleanser, leaving a lingering odor. Sickeningly sweet, not quite the true odor of lemon drops or made-from-scratch lemon meringue pie.

Sights, sounds, and smells stay with most chemo patients long after treatments have stopped, bringing back memories of the haunting taste and queasy feelings the drugs gift you with. I once heard a story about a patient who ran into her doctor on the street many years after her treatments had stopped - and promptly threw up. Such is the power of memories.

It's been a dozen years since I was on the front line of that battle between the good and bad cells. Most of the smell-based memories are long gone, but occasionally I'll get a whiff of a faint, fake, lemony aroma and give an involuntary cringe. And I'm again thankful for that kind soul who warned me not to eat, wear, or use any of my favorite things for comfort during the cell-wars, or they would no longer offer the comfort desparately needed at that time.

I can now enjoy a home-made lemon meringue pie but still can't stand the smell of cheap lemon-scented cleansers. My doctor unfortunately succumbed to the ravages on his heart from his own cell-wars, so those memories, although bitter-sweet, only bring feelings of immense gratitude.

Bless you, Dr. Sig. You saved my life.

Thanks for not using anything chocolate.

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