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Sweating the Small Stuff

 

If you have been in the cancer game, you know how many appointments and tests you have to go through to be able to proceed with the treatment (s) that will help you fight your cancer. You cannot be impatient when you are waiting for appointments. You have to count on the whole day for an appointment. That way if the appointment is on time or the tests go smoothly and you get out in a timely manner, you feel wonderful!

A very close friend of ours had the best line when she was waiting for an appointment. In the waiting room, people were complaining about being there a long time. She said to them that she was glad to be here because the other option wasn’t a good one. 

I just went for my yearly check up and it took me three hours to get there when it usually takes an hour and a half. The traffic was bad along with the snow covered roads. I didn’t get upset because I was glad I was going for my annual appointment. It’s all how you frame your day. The alternative option, again, isn’t a good one.

Back to the appointments. My wife, Julie, and I were in the basement of Princess Margaret Hospital at the beginning of our journey after I had first been diagnosed. This appointment was to have a plaster mask made that would allow the radiation oncologist to make a plastic mask which would protect my head from radiation and allow me to be bolted down to the radiation table. The experience was terrifying as we had never really understood how the radiation would take place and what I was about to endure. To top it all off, the basement of any building is not a pleasant place to be.

But something happened… a life-altering moment occurred to which both of us often go back to and remember with reverence and hope. As we sat, clutching each other’s hand, there was a young man in his mid twenties accompanied by his mother, seated across from us. He had a black eye patch on and while he was obviously a handsome man, there was one side of his face where obvious reconstruction had happened. There was an artistic symmetry about him as he sat with his legs swung over the accompanying chair, his long, black hair rakishly brushed back from his face – we couldn’t help but look at this young man. There was a look of protection as the mother returned our gaze. She told her son she had to go back out to put money in the meter. When she left the room, the young man looked at us and shyly said,” You’ll have to excuse my mother. She is always on the defensive when I am out in public.” 

We struck up a conversation, and he explained he had undergone surgery and radiation to remove a cancer from his cheek. Unfortunately, the cancer had returned, just as he had been prepared to return to work. This time a tumour had been discovered at the base of his brain and he had lost vision in his left eye. He looked so longingly over at us when he said, “It has been so long that I’ve had to worry about the big things in life. I was really looking forward to going back to work and just being able to sweat the small stuff again.”

From that point on, we have looked at Life differently. Sweating the big stuff isn’t a whole lot of fun. We often think of this young man and pray that he is indeed able to sweat the small stuff.

 

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