Thursday, July 14, 2011

It Happened Again...

For the 2nd consecutive "routine" visit out to MDA, I got to chat w/ a terminally-ill cancer patient.

You should do that sometime.  Really, you should.

This was a 60-something lady from Kansas City.  Advanced pancreatic cancer, which is usually a get-your-affairs-in-order type diagnosis.  And yet...(Wait; I'm getting ahead of myself)

So, I'm downstairs eating bkfst @ the hotel, sitting at a table by myself.  This lady & I had sort of tag-teamed the toasters trying to get our muffins toasted.  She finishes getting her bkfst, looks around, and thankfully for me, there were no empty tables.  She points at a chair opposite me & says "Do you mind?"

We had a *great* visit!  Her hubby joined us about halfway through, which added to the chat.  Meanwhile, the guy @ the next table says "are you part of the archery tournament?"  I said, "No, I'm part of the MDA-patient tournament."  The lady acted like that's the funniest thing she's heard in a while; she said "Me too!"  As it turns out, the guy & his wife *were* part of the archery tournament, and get this: he's an oncologist out in Washington State!  He asked a few questions about MDA, & the lady & I both just sung its praises.  He said, "Oh, we have some of their data @ our office & I refer to their info often."  We swapped a couple of jokes, including this one from the lady w/ pancreatic cancer: "Any diagnosis is a good diagnosis, because that means you're present to receive it!"  We all laughed.

Of course, there was the semi-obligatory comparing of tests & procedures & processes & travel arrangements & such.  She said "My Dr. back home tells me I'm just weird.  Nobody lives w/ stage IV+ pancreatic cancer 5 years & counting."  I said "Yeah, mine here says that I'm living outside the numbers; that metastatic melanoma patients 3 years out are not very many."

A bit more random conversation, & they left to catch the shuttle.  As she walked away, she said "You go on living outside the numbers, & I'll go on being weird."

What a GREAT word!  I am SO thankful for so many people that I've encountered out here.

BTW, nobody would look at this woman & say "She has a very serious form of cancer that's usually quickly fatal."

So, again my challenge to myself: What exactly is it that consumes our (my!) thoughts & emotions?  Idiot drivers nearby on the road?  Employers not fully recognizing how totally awesome we are?  Our favorite team losing a game or not landing a prized recruit or not winning big enough?  A flawed, imperfect spouse? (Best not to stay there very long, as that thinking QUICKLY does a 180. As well it should!)  Family that doesn't behave like we want them to behave?  How the weather is not in line with your personal preference?  Gas prices?

Here's what she was thinking about this morning:
--Wow! They have cranberry juice this morning!  I love cranberry juice!
--Neat-o! The waffles are shaped like the state of TX on a map!
--Today's appt., & then we're heading home.
--Honey, I'm so glad you're feeling better today.  (Said to her husband. Who does not have cancer.  Again, this was said by her to her husband, who does not have cancer.)
--Isn't MDA a great place, populated by great people?
--I don't mind this 100-degree+ heat; all of my treatments have made me much colder by nature.
--It's nice that we don't have to drive ourselves to MDA, isn't it? (Re: hotel shuttle & Houston traffic)

Grab a bit of perspective from a delightful lady who's "weird," won't you?  That sense of perspective is precisely why visiting with terminally-ill cancer patients is a good idea...


p.s. - UPDATE: I ran into her later in the day, and she had just been told that she didn't have to come back for 6 months for her next P.E.T. scan!!  Trust me, this is some fantastic news...hoping to be told that one day myself.


Steve said...

May you be told that soon!

Rick Stevens said...

Mike, I'm so glad you are here to share that story!

Cecilia Stover said...

Thanks for your comments. I admit I often complain about senseless things. This definitely puts it into better perspective.