When I was living in Utah and on Remicade, having to have my infusions in the cancer center was hard on me. Yes, most of the time the rooms I was placed in were filled with other patients on remicade, but that waiting room was hard core, man.
Have I ever told you the story about the woman I met with breast cancer? No? Well sit yourself down and get comfy because you're in for a real treat!
Ok so here's the picture: I walk into the waiting room at the infusion center and sit down, waiting for the nurse to come get me. I have my book and my laptop and I pretty much keep to myself because . . .well, it's the cancer center. It's not exactly Children's Hospital.
In walks this woman who seems to light up the room. She's been here a lot. She greets the women at the front desk by name and they know who she is without looking her up on their computers. She breezes by and takes a seat close to me.
She's chatting with the women behind the desk, another person waiting, pretty much talking to the walls. She has a lot of interesting things to say and she wants to tell! Something about her is just beautiful.
She tells me she has breast cancer. Not that I asked. I was shocked when she brought it up. But she seemed to be in the mood to share so I didn't stop her. I was mesmerized by her energy, her spunk. She was so light-hearted, so positive. She had cancer and yet if it wasn't for the scarf on her head (or the fact that she might tell you up front) you might never guess it.
Then, because she was such a joy to be around, I continued to converse with her and she asked me if I had cancer/why I was there. It sounds like such an intrusive question to ask, but for some reason with her it didn't seem odd. I told her that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and that I was there to have an infusion of medicine.
The shock on her face was chilling.
"How awful! You poor thing! How old are you?"
I told her.
"How old were you when you were diagnosed?"
I told her.
She looked as if she was about to cry. I was surprised by how much pain she felt for me. She asked a lot of questions and I willingly gave her answers. She listened intently, shaking her head, gasping at moments. Whenever she would offer words of "that's terrible" and "you're so young" and "I'm so sorry" I couldn't help but say "no no no, it's fine! really!"
At that moment I felt as if none of it matters. It reminded me of all those times at Children's Hospital when I would see these young children, much younger than me, with these horrible ailments. A young girl, blind and deaf, making dolls in the waiting room before her surgery. A baby boy, just learning to walk, with a large lump on his forehead, waiting to get an xray. (Thinking about it now, it wasn't much better than the cancer center . . . it was just more colorful and all the different wings were named after fun things like Airplane, Whale, Giraffe.) I would sit in the waiting room and sulk, my moody self pissed off at the bad hand I was dealt. And then I would look over at the other kids, playing with blocks, toys and Nintendo.
Days when I feel my worst I think about that woman. Even with cancer she was refreshingly upbeat. Even if she felt it, she wasn't giving off that vibe that says "poor me". I also think about those kids at Children's. No matter what health issues they were dealing with, they always played.
I think we all have moments where we think we are in the worst situation. Things couldn't get worse. But you are so lucky to be in your shoes. So we deal with swelling and aching and chronic pain! At least we are living to enjoy the sunshine!