Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Thoughts from the Cancer Clinic - Deb

 Journal Entry: October 31st, 2013

     On my way, again, to the cancer clinic. Second time in 2 weeks. As usual, the waiting has been the worst. God blessed me with a wonderful peace for the past week, though. But, as the reality of how the scales are destined to tip one way or the other, a little knot forms. My stomach churns unduly. All the way to London I have been rehashing my life; the what ifs; those who give meaning to my life. I decide to make a phone call. No answer. I cry a little. I needed to hear that voice but I understand the busyness of life.

     Then I turn the volume up on the CD Dianne lent me a while ago
 - Whom Have I But You by David Ruis plays.

...When the deep is calling,
And the waterfall's my home.
When I'm all but drowning
And I'm treading on my own. 
I cry a silent prayer that comes out of me. 
It's a mystery...come wash over me [Lord], wash over me...

      At the clinic Halloween is obvious. A devil, a witch, a princess, a 9-5 Queen (she calls herself), Bat woman and others - the staff; characters parading supposedly cheering up the cancer patients and their supporters, perhaps? I wonder why the pretty nurse has to have red horns and a tail. To me, a more apt costume for her is one consisting of a halo.

     My pager is number 9. That's a good sign. I grasp at straws. Birthdate - April 9th. Sounds like a good reason to be hopeful. I stand at clinic 2 waiting my turn. A thin lady in front of me fumbles for her papers. She catches my eye. We exchange smiles and then she apologizes. I offer to hold her coffee then she tells me she is in a great deal of pain. I see she is probably about my age. My minuscule pain is naught compared to what she seems to be dealing with today. I miss my turn three times at the next wicket as I continue chatting. Eventually, though, it's my turn. I register and the 9-5 Queen tells me to proceed to the computer terminal and fill out the progress report. My foolish brain focusses on the word -terminal and I decide the cancer clinic should opt for a new noun.

     The lady from the line up sits next to me. She says her name is Deb. Deb begins to bare her soul. She tells me about her newly diagnosed bowel cancer; how her doctor ignored her 'hunch' suggesting she was just being paranoid because she was already a four year lung cancer survivor. Now the cancer has metastasised to her liver. Deb tells me she weighs 86 pounds. She stops talking. I try to find something comforting to say. I talk to her about hope and then I suggest God only calls us when it is our time and that He is in control. She said she knows she is dying. We both sit quietly for a moment, reflecting.

     "Yes. God knows what He is doing," Deb finally utters.

     I leave it at that wishing I had some profound, perfect, prophetic words. I come up dry. Just a hand on hers. I wanted to give her hope and encouragement. Instead my bumbling words fall out as orders.  I tell her she should tell her elderly mother and her children about her cancer.

     How dare I? I reprimand myself for meddling but she doesn't seem offended with my words. She agrees she will soon, but she wants to sell her home first. I panicked in my soul wondering what it might be like for her to die alone. I give her my business card.

     Then Deb's pager - number 60 - goes off and just like that she flies away to learn her fate...

     I settle back into my solitude and look around. It's a stupid game I play. Guess who the cancer patient is. The ladies with head wraps and the men with bald heads are easy to pick out. My answer comes when a pager buzzes. The nurses always speak to the patient first.

     The gentle spirited Mennonite lady and I make eye contact. We chat for a few moments. I discover her appointment is 10:30. I stop grumbling. Mine is 11am. It is 12:05.

     Her pager beckons. We graciously nod at each other. I wish her the best. She reciprocates.

     I sit. A lady nearby jumps up as her pager buzzes. I play another game - elimination. The pagers have been buzzing around me, so by my calculation, I should be next. Wishful thinking. I am wrong.

     Gilles arrives. We chat for a while.

     1pm. Number 9 pager finally buzzes...

     Dr. S enters with a student. He apologizes for the long wait today. He wears a smile; a sincere smile. My stomach settles.

     The CT scan report reads: No abnormal abdominal or pelvic masses are evident. No abnormal fluid collections are present. There is a parenchymal cyst in the left lower lobe [lung] unchanged from previous; kidneys appear normal except for small renal [kidney] cortical cysts.

     Gilles and I both have tears. I suppress the urge to fall on my knees and thank Jesus but I do it in my heart anyway, as Dr. S chatters on about the results.

     Six months - my next appointment. I am a little saddened because I thought this would be my five year AdiĆ³s month, but I understand and am grateful they are keeping an eye.

     We depart the clinic with a spring in our step. Then I remember Deb...