I am waiting for my third round of Taxol to start. After today I will be 1/4 of the way through this round of chemo! Taxol is kinder and gentler than AC. Fatigue can still be an issue but all in all I am feeling better. Yesterday (and so far today) I felt pretty darn good!
I had three interesting encounters with strangers and cancer this week. The first happened at Home Depot when an employee came up to me and tentatively asked me if I was a cancer survivor. I was about to say, “Well, I am standing here aren’t I?” but decided not to be flippant She was a breast cancer survivor who had been through treatments a few years ago. It was very nice to talk to her and hear her story. She was not so lucky in the support department. While she had one friend who took good care of her, her family was not supportive at all. She is doing well now. Our conversation ended with a hug.
My second cancer encounter occurred outside Classic Cycle. For those you of not from around these parts, Classic Cycle is the bike shop below the condo/townhouse we are renting. I was passing by the shop and a man in an orange “Fuck Cancer” t-shirt came out. Well, my friend Dee had sent me the same sentiment t-shirt in black some weeks ago and it was the first one I had seen on somebody else. (I haven’t had the courage to wear it it public yet.) I asked him about the shirt and we got to talking. He is a nurse that was just diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He was on his way to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to meet with a surgeon to get a plan. He said a lot of people stop him and ask about the shirt. Some people even want to take his picture to send it to someone they know with cancer. Our encounter ended with good wishes on both our parts. I hope he will be okay.
My third encounter occurred in a deli. I was in Poulsbo (a small town near Bainbridge Island) and needed to eat. As is often the case these days, trying to decide what I actually want to eat can be a lengthy (difficult, indecisive, i.e. not easy) process. I decided to stop at Jak’s deli because they have Boars Head products. The deli has been there about 5 years and this is the first time I have ever stopped in. There was even an on-street parking space in front.
While waiting for my sandwich to be ready, I overheard a women talking about starting radiation the next day. She went on about how it was lucky she hadn’t waited to see the doctor and other such things. A minute or so after she finished her conversation, I went up to her (not my normal thing to do) and told her I was going through treatment myself. I was wearing my hat so I tipped it up so that she could see my bald head.
She looked at me and said, “I have something for you.” I was a bit startled because she talked to me like she had been waiting for me to show up. She said she had it in her car. She got up from her lunch and practically ran to her car. She came back and gave me a book called “Jesus Loves You.” She told me that I just needed to open it to any page when I felt sad or worried or afraid and read what was there. She told me I was beautiful and that Jesus did love me and that I was going to be okay.
I had a hard time holding back the tears. She was so sincere and kind and loving. We parted with a hug (people really do like hugs.) I got to the car and started to cry. The encounter was so unexpected. I was in a place where I had never been before and walked in at the exact time this women was telling her story.
Were these three experiences coincidences? I think not. I think each of us needed something from the other at that time. The woman at Home Depot needed to share her story and I think she felt truly happy that I have such a great support system. The cycle store guy and I shared the reason we decided to seek care at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. And the deli woman needed to give me the book and I needed to accept it along with all the other amazing gifts I have received.
So, that is what was up in T-Ville this week. David was my chemo buddy today and I forgot to take a picture of the two of us at chemo. So instead I will include this picture of me wearing my special t-shirt. One more bracelet down.