Follow-up (FU) appointments at my oncologist’s office are horrible. It seems fitting that FU stands for both “follow-up,” and “fuck you.” I’m not going to haul my ass all the way to the oncologist just to be told don’t have cancer! Or, I’m not going to haul my ass to that office just to be told I DO have cancer again.
Okay, can you tell it all gets me a little angry? A little anxious? It’s horrible.
Maybe I’m a little grateful for having an esteemed hematologist heading up my team. I suppose having access to blood tests, PET scans, and invasive exams is a good thing. That nurse from Barbados, Nadine, is kind. Her eyes carry joy and peace, and her aged skin is the most inviting, beautiful color I have ever seen.
And the receptionist, Karen, who’s been there forever, she always asks how my brood is behaving. Always shocked when I tell her we had another one, because they said I couldn’t make babies anymore. She genuinely cares about my heart.
Before Nadine called me back to the exam room on that fateful day five years ago, Karen and I spent a few minutes chatting about motherhood. My first baby, Lucy, was only five weeks old and I beamed as I flipped through the photos of my newborn on my phone. Karen was the first one to see my tears as I walked out into the reception area after the gut punch of a positive PET scan and diagnosis; thank God she hugged me. I regretted telling people I didn’t need them to attend the appointment with me, because cancer wasn’t in my cards again. There was nobody there to touch me, to help absorb some of that energy, to help. I can still see her gentle, teary nod.
In the months that followed many people cried many sad, angry tears with me.
She JUST had a baby, God!? FUCK YOU!
She’s only twenty-three?! Cancer, again?! FUCK YOU!
She needs a bone marrow transplant?! FUCK YOU!
Today as I walked out of my appointment, CANCER FREE, a middle-aged woman with long blonde hair wept by her car. Earlier, while in line to schedule my yearly FU appointment, I overheard her scheduling a port installation and first chemo treatment, which means she was recently diagnosed. Lord, I pray peace for this woman. Please hold her tightly on her drive home. Her blue SUV sat right next to my gray SUV in the hot parking lot.
“Can I hug you?” I asked, car keys in hand. She was alone and needed someone to absorb some of that energy. Someone to help and hold her. She walked right into my big open arms and we cried. I asked how she felt, what type of cancer had just ruined her life as she knew it, and if she needed anything. She had many questions for me, and in the course of our conversation I got to say, “Cancer is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Wow, that’s beautiful.
God is so faithful.
So it’s really all gonna be okay?
Yes, it’s really all going to be okay.
Ugghhhh…Maybe God isn’t so bad after all…