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The Cancer Made Me Say It

February 11, 2010

I’m going to hope that my oncologist will take what I said to her from the perspective of a new cancer patient who is more than a little stressed out.

Because, I, uh…oh dear, I shouldn’t tell you. But, okay, uh, I told her that her place was a dump.

Yes, I did.

The  breast clinic, right across the hall, set my expectations way too high. Their quiet little waiting rooms and volunteers with glass glasses filled with ice and orange juice did not prepare me for the ridiculousness of the oncologist’s waiting room.

Filled to the brim with people, all within immediate view of each other. No volunteers to give you a cup of water or coffee. Just a self-service coffee canister petri dish of germs in a styrofoam cup. And some a*hole had a toddler in the room who kept running back and forth, touching here, touching there, bumping into people, running back to the chemo room, running back out again.

Uh, is it just me or shouldn’t there be a bit more respect to the people who are knocking their immune systems out of commission?

So after 45 minutes of sitting in the dump, we finally got called back to our exam room. That was about 175 degrees fahrenheit. I held it together while the nurse took my vitals but the second she left me and The Big Nugget alone, I started to sob.

“I  hate this dump!” waaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

I told you that I wasn’t kidding about being the Norma Desmond of breast cancer. All drama/all the time!

We sat in there for almost half an hour, me crying, The Big Nugget suggesting we leave and find a kinder, gentler, oncology office.

But the oncologist came in before we could sneak out. (Which we weren’t going to do because I was in no mood to shop for an oncologist. I heard this one was great and I was going to respect that.)

I didn’t like her lipstick.

That was my first impression.

Person that shallow, deserves cancer, don’t you think?

She talked, I listened. I asked, she answered. She mentioned that I’d come in for my 6 rounds of chemo and if I needed to be seen inbetween. Which is when I told her that her place was a dump.

Yes. I did.

She responded so well, and in agreement of my opinion – pointing to the paper on the wall that said they were moving to their new location mid-April. And then she reached to the level of compassion this whiney cancer patient needed.

And I knew that she was the oncologist for me.

I’m more than perturbed that cancer is so common to this office that they’ve forgotten about the individuals attached to the cancer. I’m going to see what I can do to change that.

For now, if I check in and I don’t like what I see in the waiting room, I just need to let the front desk know that I’ll be sitting across the hall, in the breast cancer center’s “living room”. They’ll come and fetch me when it’s my turn.

I’m going to hope that the new clinic’s waiting room is less like an urgent care’s waiting room and more respectful toward people fighting for their lives vs. getting an antibiotic for an ear infection.

So here’s the chemo scoop – I’ll be having 6 rounds of chemo, 3 weeks apart. I’m deciding if I want to participate in a clinical trial for a new drug. That won’t change what they plan to give me, it’ll just be tacked on.

They’re giving me chemo that is less likely to make me sick to my stomach. However, the nurse asked me if I’d had morning sickness when pregnant, as that will pretty much reflect what lies ahead.

People? I had morning sickness, morning noon & night, for months. This is not going to be pretty.

But they did guarantee that my hair will come back curly for awhile.

I’m very sore today. Between the exam and The Big Nugget hitting every pothole on the ride home, I hurt.

If you can, plan your bilateral mastectomy so as to avoid pothole season, I suggest you do that.

I looked at the calendar today for the first time in a while. It’s the 11th? Seriously? The fun began on the 17th of last month. What in the hell happened? Are there any eye witnesses because I’m confused!

p.s. I liked my oncologist’s stripey socks.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2010 11:24 am

    Good for you for speaking up! And Kathy I loved what you said — “I’m more than perturbed that cancer is so common to this office that they’ve forgotten about the individuals attached to the cancer. I’m going to see what I can do to change that.”

    I am really proud of you – I doubt that makes you feel any better about what’s going on — but I am. And be Norma all you want. this is your Cancer no one elses.

    Just remember girl it’s okay to lean, lean on all of us, you ain’t that heavy.


  2. akkelly permalink
    February 11, 2010 11:53 am

    I would have to believe that your oncologist has probably heard quite a bit more critical bluntness than you offered. You can decide if you’re going to be one of the folks that is remembered for your snappy humor in the sadly unending sea of cancer patients. 🙂

    Oh, and once this is all over, I’ll show you how many padded bra options there are out there. No need for stuffing snacks. Crumbs itch.

  3. Jean permalink
    February 11, 2010 12:30 pm

    You go girl! And thumbs up to your Onc doc for reacting appropriately.

    This reminded me of the time I had some dental surgery a few years ago. The receptionist was a full out, Talbot-wearing bitch. Nasty, nasty, nasty. As I was breathing deeply my full share of nitrous, and a bit loopy, I asked the surgeon if his wife worked at the office (how on earth I had the presence of mind to do this I will never know). He said no, so I proceeded to tell him that his receptionist was a bitch and she shouldn’t be in any contact with his clients. Even in my impaired state, I saw a look pass between him and his assistant. He thanked me for my comment and cranked the nitrous valve wide open.

    Damn the potholes, anyway. This winter has sucked for more reasons than one.

  4. February 11, 2010 1:18 pm

    I LOVE that you’re going to wait in the waiting room you prefer! What a journey. And all I got for you today is a joke my brother told me during one of his endless Iggy Pop tours in the 90s (he’s a bassist). A roadie told it to him. Ready?

    What’s the difference between the Rolling Stones and Scotland?

    The Rolling Stones say Hey, You, Get Offa My Cloud and in Scotland they say Hey, McCloud! Get Offa My Ewe….

    loveya, keep on keeping on….


  5. February 11, 2010 2:54 pm

    That you have it together enough to speak your truth – is a very good, very resilient sign. Don’t ever lose that.

    As per nausea… I don’t know what the laws are there in your state, but here in Cali – medical marijuana is legal and has helped many people. If it is not legal where you live – perhaps you know somebody slightly shady who could score some for you? I’m just sayin’…

  6. February 11, 2010 2:55 pm

    You have a pot hole season? Here they rule the roads year round, roadworks now those have a season, which is right now right outside my front door! Maybe your oncologist should match her lippy to her socks??? Hope the next visit is less stressful! Hugs Bels

  7. February 11, 2010 3:06 pm

    If you get any funnier..I might pee my pants at work and need to borrow your old bra’s to sop up my mess. I think you rock. I also think you should tell everyone the raw truth…always. This is why I’m known as “honest hilda” where I work.

  8. February 11, 2010 3:30 pm

    As I mentioned, I’ve been seeing my oncologist for six years. My surgery was February 13, 2004. In that time he has changed offices (they seem to have more patients than ever) at least three times, different parts of the same practice. Some were better than others. The latest one, where I went in December, is brand new and lovelier than I need. The worst one was where they were doing the phlebotomy (blood drawings) in the same crowded room with some patients receiving chemo.

    But as you get to know them, you’ll find some wonderfully empathetic people. If you really don’t like ’em, you can always ask for someone else.

  9. February 11, 2010 3:31 pm

    P.S. I know you know what phlebotomy is; you just finished a med-sec course!

  10. February 11, 2010 3:48 pm

    I love the Doctor’s response to your distress. Sounds like she’s ‘the one’!

    Hang on, K~Lo! You’re doing JUST fine. Melt-downs are SOOOO allowed. The Big Nugget will see you through. What an awesome team you are! I’d be lucky to get a pat on the head. (my block head just wasn’t ‘wired’ for compassion. I’m used to it)

    Love ya!

  11. February 11, 2010 4:41 pm

    When I was first reading the description of the waiting room, I was livid. I was going to tell you to find another oncologist. But as I read on, I think you may have the right one.

    As for the snotty nosed toddler (I do love them, really I do), that child should not have been allowed in that waiting room – under no circumstances. Your immune system hasn’t been destroyed yet, but I’m sure there were others whose had been.

    For what it’s worth. I too had morning sickness 24/7 for the entire term. Chemo didn’t really make me ill. I was a bit on the edge, but I was never really sick. I learned that certain odors would get to me. I hope that is what you experience too. It makes the entire ordeal much easier to get through.

    Prayers for you sister survivor. And watch those pot holes.

  12. February 11, 2010 5:11 pm

    Just a thought – the snotty nose toddler might have been a patient too! (Just had a email from a friend whose little one had chemo but who refused to do the cute sick child thing and rampaged unless he was completely floored after treatment!)

    • February 11, 2010 5:22 pm

      He wasn’t a patient. His dad was. He was also accompanied by the mom – who spent alot of time trying to spank him, hoping nobody would notice that she was spanking him, and the grandmother, too. Made me want to suggest that perhaps grandma stayed home with the kid next time. Or in the frickin’ McDonald’s that’s downstairs. Man!

      If I’m ever in chemo and that little shit comes running in, I’ll be speaking up to the staff. A hospital doesn’t allow children to visit, why would a place that’s lower immune systems?

  13. February 11, 2010 5:51 pm

    I love that you spoke up for all the chemo patients in there, that they deserved a lovely place in which to be while they’re undergoing treatment and fighting for their lives. Even with this major upheaval in your life, you’re still thinking about everyone else. How do you DO that?!

    I have a toddler, and I think it’s shameful that kid was there. I’m with you… the grandma should have stayed home with him. Ugh. It’s like the woman (supposedly a nurse), an acquaintance of mine, who I ran into on Halloween. When I went to give her a hug, she was all, “Oh don’t get too close, I have H1N1.” Then why the hell are you out on the most crowded day of the year, around all these children???

    People are so dumn.

  14. February 11, 2010 6:32 pm

    just prayed for you

  15. poolagirl permalink
    February 11, 2010 7:30 pm

    Still lighting that candle. Still thinking of you. Blessings.

  16. February 11, 2010 9:22 pm

    Just stopped by to tell you I am still thinking about you!! I am in total agreement about the toddler. Why did they bring him if obviously they had a babysitter (grandma)? Some people just floor me with their inconsideration, it’s not as if it isn’t bad enough being cold/flu season.

  17. February 11, 2010 9:33 pm

    I’m sorry the office sucked and so proud of you that you spoke up. Just think of all of those other people who have sat there through their treatments and didn’t speak up. Your first day there and you’re already making changes that will be positive for other people!
    Soon enough, I bet the other patients will be marching into the nice livingroom with you and that kid will be running around in the ugly room banging into empty chairs!

  18. February 12, 2010 5:50 am

    Oncologist waiting rooms are the worst I’ve ever been in. I’m glad you like your oncologist, though.

  19. Floweer permalink
    February 12, 2010 10:08 am

    I am all set to drive. I will get my people to fill the tank – give it a wash – and a vacuum. My GPS is all set. I won’t get lost! Surroundings are so important. We all feel better when we are in warm colors – and it does not take much. Good for you to make them “up their game”. Your eye for design will help them.
    Fight like a girl – girl!

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