Cancer and Waiting
Sitting in waiting rooms can seem endless. Waiting is not something I enjoy and it, definitely, is not something that I ever wanted to become good at. It is not something that I needed to excel at or conquer and yet, I have become an expert. I know where to sit in waiting rooms to avoid talking to people. I know the appropriate items to bring to look “busy” and how to successfully avoid making small talk. I have learned to recognize the way most people demonstrate their stress: tears, nervous laughter, useless chit-chat, quiet solitude, vapid reading of any/all magazines provided and of course lifeless gazing at cell phones in hopes of escaping reality. I feel like I have heard all the jokes the receptionists cycle through with patients. The jokes are not unique, though the kind folks that check you in are and try with every patient to make them feel like they have never heard the joke before. I have created a sort of game involving fictional names, reasons for visit and back story, including superpowers, for each person in the waiting room. This all seems to help pass the time of waiting until the sudden moment when that ominous feeling you have been trying to avoid crashes down. All this happens with the simple call of a name. The moment your loved one, friend, son or daughter, mother or father gets called. Mental stability and situational avoidance shattered. You follow the call, by gathering your belongings and trudging in to the unknown behind the closed door.
In this room you will wait some more. The clock seems to tick at and unbelievably slow pace; one minute forward two minutes back. The heaviness of the atmosphere seems to settle, a weighted blanket over your body. There is an actual feeling of gravity pulling you down, anchoring you to your seat. This sensation takes root deep in your joints and muscles as fear seeps deeper into your being and starts pulsing through your veins. The shear vastness of the situation starts the panic rising, almost overwhelming you until the knock on the door sends it flying from your joints into your throat. You try to choke the feeling down, anxiously awaiting the “news” of the results. When you finally get to see your loved one, friend, son or daughter, mother or father, a realization washes over you, the moment you look in to their watery eyes; they had it worse. All the pressure and stress you may have been feeling is reflected ten-fold, leaving you with a guilty understanding that whatever you were feeling is nothing in compared to their fear.
Waiting is painful. Waiting is fearful. Waiting with fear and pain is debilitating at times. Waiting in rooms for the doctor, waiting in lobbies to be seen, waiting for scans, blood tests, diagnosis, plans of treatment, chemo, radiation, surgery, answers… it all takes time. This time takes its toll on the mind and body. The reality is when one person in a family gets cancer… the whole family get cancer, hell, the whole village gets it. The effect is wide-spread. In this I have learned that just like it takes a village to raise our children, it takes a village to care for one another, too.
Tuesday marks a whole year of undeniable stress and fatigue, anxiety and relief, tears and heartbreak that would have been unfathomably hard without the love and support of our village. The village mindset is powerful! This way of living, thinking, and surviving allows ALL participants to bear SOME of the load, thus enabling us to have strength to persevere. So, I sit here enduring yet another wait while Kaycee is in surgery, trying desperately to keep the panic at bay. I can do this knowing that the village is out there praying, sending love light and good juju our way (I also have imagined that everyone in this waiting room has the superpower to heal and fight off diseases with their powerful minds and patience as they wait for their loved one’s results, too). We still have a lot of waiting to endure but as each wait ends a new step to recovery begins.