Advance Directly to Radiation Therapy (do not collect $200)

Walking into my medical oncologist’s office was like walking into a comfortable, warm hotel lobby.


After registration, my mom and I sat in the quiet waiting area, drinking coffee and filling out paperwork, looking out of the frosted glass enclosure into the elevator bank of the Lemmon-Holton Cancer Pavilion.

When the Medical Assistant called us back, the path we walked curved through a second waiting room. It was just as quiet and softly lit as the one we just left but it was absolutely full of cancer patients awaiting treatment. Many women were wearing scarves or hats to cover their hairless heads while other women sat there exposed and beautifully bald. I didn’t notice what the men looked like, they didn’t catch my eye at all. There was a small pharmacy next to this waiting area; the hallway that jutted behind this area led to what looked like a gigantic procedure room. Across from the waiting area, hall leading to that mysterious treatment area and the pharmacy were little glass encased cubicles where technicians were working with other patients.

While waiting for my doctor, I looked out over the city: Lookout Hill, the Grand River, 131 and 196, St. Adalbert’s (my parents’ church). I could not hear a sound from outside through the window. It was so peaceful. I felt at peace.

My doctor performed a physical exam and we talked. We spoke about my pending genetic testing, “you may be having more surgery before hormone therapy depending on those results.” I know. Well, I am prepared for that as much as possible without having all of the information. She have me thrilling news: chemo was not necessary! It wouldn’t benefit me enough to do it; I am released from her office until after radiation therapy. She asked how the kids were doing and encouraged sharing information. As I was leaving, she had her arm around my shoulder and said, “Tell them the good news about keeping your hair. You can tell them you’ll be ok. You are ok. I will see you again soon.” I was elated.

This was the first day I had gotten dressed and left the house since surgery. As physically tired as I was, I wanted to celebrate. I stopped on my way out to pick up my prescription tamoxifen and waited with all the other cancer patients in their wigs and scarves and baldness. A sense of gratefulness consumed me knowing I wouldn’t be sitting in those specific chairs. My Mom and I took The Bigs (the oldest two kids) to the Grand Coney. I had best turkey Reuben ever.


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