I’ve said this many, many times before but I feel like the luckiest person alive for the support system that I have had through the past seven months. As time passes, this support system continues to grow in unexpected ways. It feels as if everywhere I turn is another person with their own cancer story to connect with whether they be survivors, caretakers, or medical professionals.
Having cancer in this respect is like pledging for a sorority. You meet all these great, new people who do awful crap to you like cut your guts out and pump you full of poison. You are alongside other women undergoing the same “torture”. When it is all said and done you have a bunch of new friends who identify with and support you (the only difference is that you don’t rip shots and do keg stands with these people. Or maybe you do. I just haven’t found them yet).
My phlebotomist is a great example of one of these “sorority sisters”. Today I had to get blood drawn. A few months ago I would have dreaded this. I mean, who wants to get stabbed in the veins with needles on the regular? (acceptable answers include: masochists and heroine junkies). Today was different because I hadn’t seen her in a while and I really enjoy our encounters. We chatted about work and her daughter that is going off to college in the fall. It was warm and familiar. She tortures me with those needles but her vested interest in my life and health makes me feel oddly at home in her little blood drawing chair. This is what I was getting at in a previous entry, that familiarity of a GOOD medical staff. They become your friends, family and confidants. They see you cry, they see your pain, they experience it with you. Even better, as you progress through the stages of your illness they celebrate your victories with you because those victories are theirs too.
Speaking of great medical professionals, my chemo nurse and I are total buddies now. We even went to yoga together tonight at W&I. She introduced me to another young woman with cancer (also named Jess) who I am looking forward to getting to know better. We all know that nurses are dedicated but when your nurse is willing to do shoulder stands with her patients in her spare time, you know she’s amazing. If anybody ever has the pleasure of meeting Sheila Enderby give her a giant high five.
Aside from the medical staff there are your fellow “pledges”, other cancer survivors. This network of people grows for me regularly at this point. Three separate people at work have revealed to me that they have had cancer and had undergone similar treatment. Two of these people revealed themselves to me in the last couple of weeks. In fact, I complimented a woman in the staff dining room on her haircut. She leaned in and whispered “it’s a wig” so I leaned in and whispered “mine too”. The next day she invited me to lunch and it turned out that not only did we both undergo cancer treatment, we also had the same social worker AND chemo nurse. Of course I would never want anyone to have to go through what I did but at the same time it has been really nice to connect with others on such a deep level when I probably would not have otherwise.
Though I never pledged for a sorority, I am certainly a lifetime member of an ever growing “club” anway. With every “sister” I meet, the mutual understanding helps me to feel a little less alone.
(p.s. our sorority house is called Women and Infants Hospital and we ran out of beer. All we have left are bags of saline, taxol, and cisplatin. It beats the hell out of natty light though)
On a totally unrelated note we are quickly approaching wedding season! Two of my friends from college, Katie and Molly, are getting hitched to long time boyfriends. I had the privilege of attending their showers this month:
Oh and I have also decided that this handsome fella is going to be my wedding date to Katie’s wedding. I’m sure her parents won’t mind if I borrow him for the day…
When these lovely ladies got engaged I told both of them that come hell or high water I would be there to dance at their weddings. To be perfectly honest, at times I had my doubts that I would be well enough to attend these beautiful events. Health-wise, I am so much better than I expected to be at this point and I don’t just think, but I know that I will continue to progress in a positive direction. I cannot wait to tear it up on the dance floor with the future Mrs. Carlson, and Mrs. Solari. If watching these beauties get married isn’t motivation to get better, I don’t know what is 🙂