Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cancer World

I went into Cancer World on Friday.

Before I talk about my visit, I have had a few raised eyebrows and comments on this "Cancer World", so let me explain. Four years ago, when Team Signy had it's debut, we were very clear, we wanted to make everything as fun as we could. Yes, that's right, everything about cancer, as fun as we could. So, we figured... Cancer World, kind of like a theme park, different rides every few months, a little scary, but kind of exciting at the same time (with the right perspective), some rides required adult supervision, you get it.

So now back to the mission. Cancer World, on Friday. I thought I had better go in, early, and find out exactly what we are talking about here. No point in getting any unpleasant surprises (you know, if you are going to go to the ride called "Hell's Gate", you want to find out a bit more, I always say, not that I lack a sense of adventure, just sometimes you want to be a bit, well, informed). So, I planned to storm the castle walls, fully expecting the usual resistance and medical obfuscation that had come to be a regular part of my recent visit's to see Dr. Chia and his friends, Goofy and Grumpy.

I was met by a welcome surprise; the front desk gal was helpful, useful and kind. God be praised. This IS promising. Could Cancer World have recently received a much needed intravenous cash infusion? Up to the second floor, the exact trail I would be walking 3 weeks hence. Turn right and right off the elevator. Into a room. It is empty, apart from those terrible plastic and metal beds, all lined up in a row, waiting. Waiting for people like me. Yikes. About to turn and run, a gentle presence found her way in front of me. She had heard I was coming. How can she help? Two out of two, I am on a role. She sits me down, and we start talking. I am talking topical Novocain, and slathering my entire right breast if I have to, to avoid the feeling of the needle pin prick (recall, I am expecting a fine wire insertion and a needle for local freezing behind my breast - even typing it makes my teeth dance in my mouth). She starts inspecting the back of my hand. Oh great, with the labour market shortage they have now started hiring less than bright and clear thinking nurses. No, no, my breast, my right breast, that is what needs the Novocain. Unperturbed she points out the great veins on my left hand. I accept the compliment, unfazed and undeterred from my mission. Then slowly the fog clears. No, that's not the right metaphor; the veil gets ripped from before my eyes. YOU ARE PLANNING TO PUT IN AN INTRAVENOUS LINE!!!!!!!!!! ARE YOU MAD???? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM???? We are having local freezing, we don't need a general anaesthetic. Now she must think I am the slow one, as she patiently tries to pry me off the ceiling.

Whose crazy ass idea was this??!?!? And why didn't Kuusk tell me? What am I saying, of course she didn't tell me, she knows full well I would have walked away from the surgery, laughing at the 30% chance of cancer in the face of a 100% chance of an IV line. Christ, and now I am committed and not one to go back on promises easily. It was all part of her crafty plan.

So after the nurse, looking more and more like Florence Nightingale, sat me back up in my chair and helped me to return my breathing to at least close to normal, she gently reassured me. Actually, she kind of playfully reassured me, which goes over well with me. Soon we were laughing about the happy drugs I will receive through the very drip that had just sent cold chills up my spine. And she was riffing off a comment I had made about not having many good little friends in the back of my right hand (where they did all the chemo IVs), and pointing to the delightful, easily assessable little friend on my left hand (which I had thought could never be used because of the lymph nodes that had been removed from that arm). Bless her for her love, and her kindness and her patience. For her understanding, her willingness to meet me where I was and not fix me or shame me (yes, nurses have tried that tact with me before, to no avail), but dance with me, and create something that works for me. What a bright light she is. And while I am very grateful to Lynne, and it helps to know that she will be with my on the day of the surgery, I can still feel my heart pound and the bile at the back of my throat just thinking about this new hurdle, my perennial challenge.

Thank goodness I have the opportunity to prepare this time around. Thank goodness I have the love of good friends, and their creative ideas to help me address this looming spectre. For I certainly don't know how I would cope with it alone. So bless you, dear readers, dear friends, for your love and kindness and creativity and willingness to follow me back down this dark, lonely road again. You are the strength that keeps me going.


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