"You may very well have cancer for the rest of your life."
"You could be cured."
"Patience is priority."
"If your cancer returns, there is nothing we can do until you have symptoms."
"Do you understand why we don't do the CA125 blood test at each checkup?"
"I hope things go well with the breast lump follow-up."
Did I leave my last check-up at the cancer clinic any wiser than when I entered? Don't think so!
I will say there is something oddly therapeutic about going to the cancer clinic, though. I intentionally look at the faces of the people seated in front of each clinic window and wonder about their stories.
As my dear, faithful driver and companion offers to go get our usual double double and apple cinnamon from the onsite Timmies to tide us over as we wait, I look for a place to sit. Today the clinic is full. Getting two seats together might be tricky. Clinic 3 is right next to the "chemo door" as I affectionately dubbed it 18 months ago!
'Tis there I stepped over the threshold and received my 6 hour treatments. A painful time. I try to avoid sitting close. But the only two vacant chairs are within a few feet from the "door." I decide to stop being silly and claim them. My oversize teal satchel substitutes for my hubby for now. [It needs to be oversize for it holds, along with the other paraphernalia, my book to read, my notes, my diary.]
Soon my tea arrives. Happy Hubby chooses to stand after driving for two hours. My purse stays put. The nice lady next to us smiles and suddenly we are in conversation. It begins with cell phones as a topic. Eileen, we've soon found out her name, knows all about the Blackberry. It is all new to my hubby so he appreciates her mini tutorial. Soon we notice her oxygen tank. Does she have lung cancer?
Ten minutes pass. It seems like we have known each other for years. Eileen does not have cancer. She is at the clinic accompanying her friend who does. She continues to share how she needs a lung transplant but she is considered too healthy. So for now she carts around her portable oxygen tank wherever she may tread.
Eileen has much to complain about. So does her friend who by this time has emerged from the examination room and joins in on our lively conversation. A breast cancer patient, bald from the chemo, but challenged by the battle (I can tell.)
Neither of these gals complain. They sparkle with life. Their good attitude and radiant demeanour casts sunshine on the "chemotherapy door" and people cannot help but smile as they listen to the laughter. I can tell that, too. By the time they leave the clinic, I feel invigorated and blessed.
Eileen, the former MRI technician, whose life was turned upside down once more when her 58 year old husband suffered a heart attack and died, does not bemoan the fact that she is going through a very long valley.
What an example...
Next Appointment for me - August 2010.
Six months is a long time but it will shoot by at lightning speed. I take my little appointment paper and slip it into my agenda. If I start feeling sorry for myself, I will think of Eileen. I will remember her smile. I will count my blessings.
...I will fear no evil for You are with me...