I love summer. I love it for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, I don’t have to punch a time clock and report to an office away from home. I also enjoy the things everyone else loves about summer: the blue skies and the warm weather.
Where I live, we usually have four seasons. The last few years, however, we have observed a reduction in the amount of the year allocated to Spring and Fall with an increase in time for winter and summer, with summer edging out winter a bit more with each passing year.
This year, we went straight from winter, to summer in April, and it happened this last weekend. I love that. Spring isn’t my favorite season anyway. But after experiencing the first dreadfully hot night where I tossed and turned till well past 3:00 a.m., I think I have come to appreciate the gradual lead-in to the summer heat which Spring provides.
Tonight seems like its going to be another hot one as well. I need the sleep. It gets tough to perform well on the job with no sleep, and it looks totally unprofessional when you begin nodding off in a marketing meeting with important clients that you really, really want to sign. Further, I started radiation treatment and the big concern about radiation is the fatigue that sets in somewhere around week three or four. I was hoping to be able to rest up in a feeble effort to avoid the fatigue and consequently having to take even more time off work.
What I need right now is a really dull movie.
The year, 2012, didn’t hesitate in announcing itself. Even before it’s calmer, more peaceful predecessor, 2011, had the opportunity to exit the scene, 2012 was pushing its way in loudly declaring that this was going to be a very different year. And, 2012, has not been wrong about that.
2012, began its oppressive rule when I had a biopsy the first week in January. It wasn’t a clean report indicating a benign issue. An additional excisional biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of cancer which lead to a third surgery to remove all the affected tissue and get what the medical professionals seem to enjoy calling “good, clean margins” or “nice, wide margins”. 2012 is literally leaving scars.
The year continued its domineering disruption this week with the start of my radiation treatments. Until now, I’ve quipped and teased and joked about it all. My coping mechanism is humor.
In spite of my ability,thus far, to remain positive and upbeat, I was silenced on Tuesday, when I attended my first appointment for radiation simulation.
“I’m here for the party.” I quipped as I checked in, garnering a smile and conversation from the associate at the front desk. Moments later, I was being led through the radiation department, to the special waiting rooms with lockers. The nice lady explained all the procedures carefully. After she left, I donned my hospital gown and headed out to the interior waiting room designed for those awaiting treatments.
I don’t know if it was her bald head, clearly indicating chemotherapy treatment or her courageous words as she spoke with another patient.
I believe am going to beat this. I’m convinced this isn’t going to do me in. My purpose here in this world isn’t quite finished yet.
It was then that 2012, slapped me full in the face and brought me up short. Suddenly, my mind grasped what I did not want to acknowledge: This disease is for real and sometimes, often, it plays for keeps.
There sat a woman, possibly even younger than me, in much worse condition than I. ( I have to say she looked strong and healthy other than her hairless head). She spoke confidently, but there was an ever-so-slight tremor of hesitating uncertainty in her voice. I realized then, that her plight could as easily be mine.
I wasn’t allowed much time to even get to know anyone. In less than a minute, I was whisked out of the room and led through a barrage of protocols required to prepare for my first treatment next week. Marked up with Sharpie marker, infused with India Ink and sporting four or five tiny but permanent tattoos the reality of it all begins to crush me.
I really do have cancer.
This is really happening.
I’m a little scared.
It was an overdose of reality shock taken intravenously, in a moment. This thing kills. Though my odds are really great for a cure, it could be worse. In fact, it still could get me…one day.
It was then that I began to shake.
I wish I’d at least had the opportunity to get to know her name before being ushered into my own room with the large spinning donut contraption. Her courageous words required applause, but time ran out.
Three days/nights later and I wonder how she is doing. I hope for her, that she is right. The grim realities of this disease hit hard in that brief sojourn in a waiting room. Tonight, I wonder, is she sick somewhere, alone? Is she dealing with the negative effects of Tuesday’s treatment and fighting off the pain and fear with every bit of her being?
I hope she’s not alone.
I hope she’s not afraid.
I hope her time doesn’t run out.
I hope she wins.