This morning, I stood in my closet surveying its contents. Normally, I don’t give much thought to my weekday attire, as I work from home and favor comfort over couture. While I still was working from home for most of the day, part of my day required me to venture out into the non-virtual world for a few hours. Hence, my fashion dilemma; what does one wear to her first oncology appointment?
Rationally, I knew that it did not matter one bit what I wore, but I found myself caught up in the minute details, which distracted me from the larger picture. I wasn’t supposed to meet with my oncologist until next week, but at the last minute, there was a scheduling conflict, which necessitated the change in my appointment. I have been chomping at the bit to get the show on the road, but I definitely have been enjoying the post-op and pre-treatment purgatory I have been in for the past two weeks. Now, it was time to take the first step toward the door of the club I am fighting to get out of soon.
I finally settled on something that I think would best be described as ‘business casual’, just to show cancer that I took it seriously, yet not too seriously. When I arrived at the oncology office, I recalled the last time I was there 15 years ago for IVIg infusions. These infusions were part of my infertility treatment for immunological issues, and I remembered sitting in the chemotherapy room and feeling so sad and guilty that I was healthy, while everyone else there was ill. Today, I became just like everyone else.
The office has been remodeled, so, it did not look familiar at all. It was apparent that I was the new kid in the club, as I carried my new patient packet through the crowded waiting room. I was not sure where to sit, and every time the pager went off, I wasn’t sure where to go. Yes, a pager, like ones restaurants use to let you know that your table is ready, only this one lets you know when it is time to go to the lab, see the social worker, meet with the oncologist, etc. Pretty cool, huh?! But I digress.
Once I found a seat, the familiar feelings of sadness and guilt returned. As I snuck glances at the others in the waiting room, I felt such great empathy for them. Some of them appeared to be very ill, while I, on the other hand, looked perfectly fine and felt even better. I knew that this was now my club, but I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt like an impostor.
As I made my way from the lab to the social worker and to the oncologist, I was on autopilot. It was like any other doctor’s appointment, as I had my blood drawn, was weighed and measured, and had my blood pressure and temperature taken. As soon as the oncologist walked into the room, I was reminded that this was not like any other appointment. I was officially in the club now.
As I spoke with the doctor, who was now my greatest ally, I immediately felt a sense of relief and renewed hope. As we discussed everything that had transpired over the past 6 weeks, I was given unexpected good news about the staging of the cancer and the treatment options. I had hoped to find out my definitive treatment plan and schedule today, but I won’t know those answers until the results of one final test come back. As my doctor said, “It’s hurry up and wait around here.” Even though I don’t have all of the answers, I will. I don’t have time for cancer, but I do have time to get well. So, that is exactly what I will do.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story