In case you didn't see the whole post title, it's "People Like That Are the Only People Here: Canonical Babbling in Peed Onk" This was a short story from Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules, edited by one of my heroes, David Sedaris. Peed onk is short for pediatric oncology.
It popped in my head today, as I spent most of the day in on the oncology floor with my mother. That's one place you never expect to be. Sure, statistically, plenty of people will be there at one point or another, either as a patient or in support of one. Then one day, you're there. Wishing you weren't. Wishing you were anywhere else. Trying to balance remaining positive with understanding the fear your loved one surely feels. Saying it'll be ok, when you know that right that moment, that person sure as hell doesn't feel ok.
That said, it was an incredibly positive meeting. Dr. Malhotra was patient and kind and above all, positive. He literally said that classic HL is "extremely curable" and well, ya can't say that about every cancer. Below is a picture I snapped of us on the way out today, see, she's smiling.
The plan is this - chemo every other week for 6 months. He believes her to be stage 2, with multiple masses on only one side of the diaphragm. They've scheduled another battery of tests, including a PET scan, in order to create a baseline for comparison while she goes through treatment and verify that the masses they've documented are indeed the only ones present. A bone marrow biopsy (ouch, it hurts just to write that) to make sure there's no cancer in her bone marrow, which would move her to stage 4. He says even in that event, it would still be curable.
They have plans for controlling nausea, so her hope of losing weight on The Chemo Diet were dashed when Dr. M said she probably wouldn't lose much weight. But, he says, you will begin to lose your hair 2-4 weeks after the first treatment. Now, I know that everyone says this is a little, minor, temporary thing. But dammit, imagine for one moment that you're going to lose YOUR hair, and see how you feel. So we talked wigs and scarves. That doesn't make her feel any better. Your identity and self esteem are directly linked to how you look, how you see yourself. It sucks.
And so, a week from tomorrow, she begins the cancer fight. There's a great prognosis, a solid support staff at the hospital, and friends offering help. I'm happy about these things. I know it will be ok. But right this moment, somehow it's just not. When we got home, I asked, "How do you feel? Ready to do this? Positive? Optimistic? It's only a few months out of your life. You're going to do this. So.. how do ya feel?"
She replied, "I feel scared."
Me, too, Mom. Me, too.