After a 9-day stay in hospital, I was home… for one day. Yesterday, I had to come back for a painful bone marrow biopsy, and tomorrow, I have to come back for a CT scan. (I practically live at the Hospital these days!)
The results of these tests will be available in approximately two weeks, and will show whether the Lymphoma “has been knocked down” (in Dr. Tiedemann’s words). He is “very confident”. Me? I am very hopeful.
In the meantime, Chemo #5 awaits on Monday. This time, I’m not going to say “Bring it on!”. I’ll just hang on to this roller coaster ride and hope to make it through the next two chemo treatments seamlessly.
But this post is really not about me. It is about a lady who was in the bed beside me in the Emergency Room last week. Imagine a 30-something blonde woman, very pretty, beautiful eyes – a bit gaunt. For an hour and a half, I overheard her on the phone, anxiously trying to find someone who could pick up her 11 year old daughter from a friend’s place and look after her while she was in the hospital. With each call, she had to repeat her story and cried as she told it. She did finally find someone, and I heard the relief in her voice as she took a deep sigh of relief. My heart went out to this woman.
As we waited overnight in Emerg for beds to be available in the hospital (she also had a blood infection and needed to be admitted), I got to know “Leslie”. I learnt that she has been waiting for a liver transplant for the past 2 years. She goes to the hospital every day at 1 pm to “clean” her liver. She has 3 children: an 11 year old, a 4 year old, and a 2 year old baby! Every weekday, she drives to a subway station near her home, then takes the subway to the hospital for her treatment. After her treatment, despite feeling very nauseous, she forces herself back onto the subway, rushes to get to her car so she can pick up her kids from the daycare. This has been her regimen every day for quite some time. She knows that she cannot continue in this way indefinitely. I tried to have her think about support and resources she could tap into so that she could focus on getting better. I also gave her the contact information of someone who could help her sort things out. I hope she will follow through.
I have thought of Leslie every day and marveled at how strong she is – stronger than I could ever be. I think about how she has to look after her three young children when she is so sick, and has to be in the hospital every day. I wonder how tiring it would be to have to wait for a liver for two years, with no imminent hope of getting one. When I reflect on her situation, I realize how lucky I am.
Yes, I have two cancers. I also have a definite treatment plan with a timeframe and an oncologist who is optimistic that I will beat the cancers. And I have a tremendous network of support of family and friends.
My learning is that if you look outside your own bubble and take the time to really see the people around you, there is much to discover. Everyone has their story. And while you may think your situation is dire, there are people whose challenges are greater. It’s all about perspective.