After the telling us about the cancer, my dad went to Columbian Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. This is where he got chemo. My mom explained to me and my sister that chemo was a very strong medicine used to fight cancer. She said the chemo was like a little army that would kill the cancer, but the army would also make my dad weak. The chemo came with a lot of rules. My mom explained that it was important for us to keep the house very clean. She said we had to take our shoes off at the door, wash our hands a lot, and if we were sick we would have to wear a face mask. Also we weren’t allowed to bring flowers to Daddy when he was at the hospital because flowers could carry germs.
At the end of May, my dad went in for his first chemo treatment. He would have to stay at the hospital for a few days, but then they would let him come back home. The first time we went to visit him in the hospital was a little scary. My mom drove us into the city and we had to park in this big underground parking lot. That part wasn’t too scary because I remembered going to those parking lots when we used to come to the city and visit my dad at work. Then, we walked up this very steep hill until we reached the entrance to the hospital. I didn’t like the entrance because it was chaotic and smelly; I held my breath and glared at the people smoking cigarettes right outside the glass hospital doors. I didn’t mind the lobby too much because it didn’t really look like a hospital, except for the gift shop with its “Get Well Soon” teddy bears and balloons. But when we walked towards the elevators, I noticed a strange smell. It was a sickening smell of some kind of antiseptic or medicine, a smell that’s impossible to ignore.
In the hospital room, I felt awkward. There were doctors and nurses and patients and other families all over the place. Looking at my dad in the hospital bed, I didn’t really know what to say or how to act. My little sister, on the other hand, didn’t seem to let the fact that Dad was in a hospital bed slow her down; she went on talking and joking with him the same way she would at the dinner table. I stayed quiet.
Sitting in the hospital room, my dad set up Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl on a little, portable DVD player. It was one of our favorite family movies; we even made up our own trivia questions about the movie. The four of us stayed in the hospital room, overlooking a dirty city street, and tried to keep things normal, but our sense of normal had vanished forever.