Journal of a Living Lady #407
Nancy White Kelly
Go to any town, big or small, and it appears that every business is either buying gold or giving flu shots. I got a phone call from my neighborhood grocery store reminding me that flu shots are available on aisle number one.
An appointment with my cancer doctor was only two days away so I decided to wait for him to give that shot to me. After battling serious cancer off and on since the mid-80’s, I still must regularly check-in for claustrophobic CAT exams, vampirish blood work, and radiating bone scans.
You would think I’d be used to all those tests by now. If anything, I dread these supposedly routine visits more than ever. You just never know when cancer, with a renewed vengeance, will again rear its ugly head ready to race to the finish line. I don’t fear death; I just dread the journey.
Thankfully I have been stable for many months. Bad memories linger. On a treatment day about three years ago, my doctor came into the chemotherapy room, gave me a darting glance, and hurriedly held an impromptu meeting with all the available nurses. Little did I suspect they were talking about me. Within an hour I was in a hospital bed and near death’s door with total kidney failure. Miraculously I recovered and was released from the chains of dialysis in less than six months.
Every time my oncologist sees me now, he seems puzzled. How could somebody with Stage 4 cancer survive two major bouts with the big C which included a stint with hospice? He quizzes me about health food I might be taking.
“Zip, zero, nada.”
Without fail, my smiling doctor points a finger toward heaven. In the early days I tried every herb and radical diet imaginable. During the intervening years I have taken every type chemo for my type cancer available. I have had so much radiation to my spine that I glow at night like a Halloween skeleton.
More than a Living Lady, I am a thriving lady. My oncologist sees so much illness and death that he is quick to tell me that I am a rare bright spot in his practice. He sees few long-term metastatic breast cancer survivors, especially after the disease has coursed its way through bones and lungs. It is as if my cancer has stopped in its tracks. The title of this column should be Journal of a Living Miracle.
The word “stable” is a wonderful word when you are in this battle. I don’t know why God chooses to prolong one life and not another. I am not more special or deserving than others who have fought or are fighting this tough opponent.
Today my doctor wanted me to have a flu shot. No problem.
A teen-age nursing assistant, obviously in training, appeared with a syringe. I don’t know who was more intimidated, the shot giver or the shot “givee.” My hope was that I wasn’t her first patient ever.
The young girl dabbed some alcohol on my upper arm and pieced the skin with the needle, not with a quick jab, but with a slow methodical push. It made me wish I had taken my grocer up with his offer on aisle number one.