I remember keenly the last three weeks of pregnancy, the weeks when labor and delivery are less frightening and more a promise of relief. Well meaning but over-friendly women would reach to touch my ridiculous stomach and nod, “You look ready to pop, honey.” Then the raised eyebrow, conspiratorial grin, and whisper: “You know what’s good for that, right?”
That’s where I stand in the world of active cancer treatment: three weeks to go. My skin is pink and blotchy, but tolerating radiation treatment well, and I feel stronger each week. The hair on my head has sprouted to a luxurious bristly quarter inch, though my eyebrows and eyelashes have decided they’d like to abandon ship, perhaps making room for new recruits. Nevertheless daily treatments, weekly physical therapy, weekly visits with my radiation oncologist, and regular follow-up visits with my surgeon, primary care physician, and medical oncologist fill the calendar with reminders of the ongoing fight. It’s been more than seven months since my diagnosis and, to be blunt, I’m done.
I’m done with scarves, wigs, and the constant eyelashes in my eyes. Done with the well meaning yet oddly smug physical therapists with whom I must chatter for an hour while lying topless and captive. Done with weight checks and blood pressure checks and blood draws. Done with referrals and appointment changes and leave request forms at work that, if pulled together for the past year, could feed a bonfire. Done with the doctors who must admit to me that it would be patronizing for them to not admit that they find my lymph node involvement “concerning.” Done with acknowledging the frightening long term side effects from my treatments that I am expected to accept gracefully as the price for my life. Done done done done done.
So, this is how the next doctor’s appointment will go. I will walk into the office. The receptionist will inform me that my insurance company no longer requires referrals and that, instead of owing a co-pay, they would like to pay me and, by the way, here’s a cupcake. But I won’t have time to eat the cupcake because a nurse will be ready to see me immediately. ”Sorry to keep you waiting for two minutes, sweetie. We like to keep our wait times below a minute.”
Ok, wait. I have to stop. Crack myself up!
Then the nurse will check my weight and will discover that I have magically lost five pounds since my last check two days before. And then the doctor will walk in! Immediately! And she will say, “Ms Stewart? I’m so glad to see you. I have some interesting news. You know that there is no cure for cancer. But, well, now there is. It’s sprinkles. So eat your cupcake, and I’ll see you again…. never!”