The last few posts have been a little gloomy, so I hope this one will be a little bit of fresh air.
During my last chemo infusion, I met this elegant woman, in her sixties I’d guess. She’d had cancer at least twice, but she said that she wouldn’t take any of the experience back. Her reasons were partly heartfelt: She met her husband in the infusion center. He was there with his wife during this woman’s first cancer. They all became friends. Then the wife died. The woman and the new widower grew close and eventually married. But, she said, it was more than that.
She didn’t really elaborate, but even four or five months into the cancer thing, I can guess what she means. Having cancer isn’t all bad. During the last couple days, I’ve been imagining how a game show host might introduce the good side of having this really scary disease:
You’ve just won the jackpot with these malignant biopsy results! We’re giving you an all-expenses paid (if you have health insurance) journey to the Tropic of Cancer.
There, you’ll be waited on by legions of doctors, nurses and technicians of all sorts who scan, poke, prod and do everything they can to make you better.
You will suddenly discover a huge community of other people who are facing, or have faced, the same journey to the isle of the big C. This community will be unbelievably supportive and generous with time, information, and advice.
Your friends and family, likewise, will send you tons of supportive cards and casseroles from Well-ville. You will discover that you are not the only person in the world who can cook.
If you are lucky enough to lounge on a beach, chemotherapy will make it unnecessary to have a bikini wax. You can also give up shaving your legs, since they won’t have any hair.
The nausea will help you lose weight so that you look better in that bikini.
And, if you don’t like beaches, radiation will send your offending body part to Cabo, while leaving the rest of your body at home.
You will learn the joys of sitting still, whether you want to or not.
You will learn to live day by day, whether you want to or not.
You will find more strength than you knew you had, whether you want to or not.
You will be humbled by the kindness of others, whether you want to or not.
And, hopefully, after six months to a year of seemingly endless treatments you’ll get a ticket from the Tropic of Cancer back to Well-ville. Have a nice trip!
So far, in a weird, almost inexplicable way, it has been.