We’ve met some really nice people throughout this foray into the world of chemotherapy and cancer treatment. Not only have the doctors, nursing staff, medial assistants, schedulers and everyone in between been great, but the injection and infusion center is wide open, with no partitions, which lends itself to open conversation and a spirit of camaraderie. Corey’s infusions take just under 20 minutes and his injections take less than 5 minutes so by the time they check his vitals, prep the infusion/injection site, call down to the pharmacy to mix the drugs, robe up, administer said drugs, recheck his vitals, etc., we’re in and out in about an hour.
They’ve created this open environment on purpose, they told us. We’re fortunate to be in and out in a relatively short amount of time, but some of these infusions are h-o-u-r-s long – like 6-8 hours – so they’ve created this open yet comfortable space where you can keep to yourself if you want, or chat with the people around you if you feel up to it.
I’ll let you guess which one Corey typically feels up to… 😉
When we were there for Corey’s first infusion we were seated next to a couple in their 70s. The woman was hooked up to an infusion drip through a port in her shoulder area. Hers was one of the long infusions. You could tell by the stacks of books & magazines that they were planning on being there a while. She was dozing and he was working a crossword puzzle while we were getting settled in. After a few minutes of hushed conversation between Corey and me, the nice man made eye contact, smiled, and the small talk started.
Small talk in a cancer center is different than small talk at the park or coffee shop.
Turns out this was their first time there too, and man, they’d been through the ringer. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and she was diagnosed with uterine cancer – within 2 weeks of each other! Can. You. Imagine? They were each able to have surgeries to have their respective cancers removed, but they were administering chemotherapy to her, to be on the safe side. They were still there when we finished up and were able to leave. We wished each other luck, I told them I’d pray for a full recovery for them both, and we left. Wonder if our paths will cross again?
The second time we were there we were seated next to a couple about our age. He was reclined and asleep; she was sitting with her legs crossed, looking out the window. No books, no magazines. You could tell they’d been there a while too, and that this wasn’t their first time. They seemed to know the staff well and even some of the other patients. She spoke with a few people here and there while he slept, and we offered quiet smiles to one another a few times.
After we got settled, Corey and I whispered to each other that they looked familiar. Did we know them from church? From sports? From around our neighborhood? We couldn’t place it, but knew they looked familiar. After a bit, like with the couple the time before, the small talk started. Her husband has colon cancer. Stage 4. He went in for his first ever colonoscopy and they found it. That was three years ago and this was his third major round of chemo. She didn’t share any details beyond that but I know enough to know the prognosis for his type and stage of cancer is not great. It’s not hard to imagine what she may have been thinking, sitting there without any books or magazines.
Her husband woke up and and joined the small talk that included the whys and how longs and what types, and, after covering all of that, we mentioned that they both looked familiar. She said we did too and we asked if they went to BCA, because we’d kind of landed on church as the place they looked familiar from. It’s a large church and there are a lot of faces we smile at every week, but don’t know.
I’m not entirely sure that that’s a good thing.
Anyway, no, they didn’t attend there but did we live in Lake Stevens, by chance? Yep, we do, so it must be from somewhere in the community. After figuring out that we were at opposite ends of the parenting spectrum (their kids are in college, ours are in elementary school) and that it couldn’t have been from school or sporting events, she said, “Well, I did run for City Council last year, and I door-knocked and waved on the corner a lot, so…”
Yes! That’s it! “Were you and your family always on the corner by Safeway and MOD Pizza?!”
“Yes, we sure were!”
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
Literally. She won the seat she was running for.
They’re Lake Stevens lifers. They were both born and raised there, raised their family there, own a business there. Lifers. Kind of like Corey with Coeur d’Alene and me with Lodi. We were lifers in our hometowns too and know the value of a small(ish) town, “where everybody knows your name.” We loved it growing up wanted to raise our kids in that kind of community too; that’s one of the reasons we’d chosen Lake Stevens. She loved that and said we’d made a good choice.
She decided to run for office, she said, because she opposed the building of a 4-story apartment building on the lake. She knew there needed to be some revitalization downtown, but not that kind of revitalization. (I don’t live on the lake, but I’m sure I’d oppose that too if I did.) She told us a little bit about Lake Stevens history, since we’re relatively new to the community, and encouraged us to visit the museum. There’s a museum? Yes, there’s a museum, it’s right behind the library.
“Are there plans to build a new library? I really think we need a new library.”
Did I really just say that to the woman sitting across from me whose husband is sitting across from my husband while they’re both having chemotherapy administered?
Yes. Yes, I did.
And now I’m pretty sure that if she’s keeping a blog, it’ll say something like, “This crazy lady hit me up today for a new library. Not at a City Coucil meeting, but at my husband’s chemotherapy appointment!”
I’m that lady.
Oh. My. Word. I am so embarrassed.
(But yes, there are plans to build a new library, so…)