Cancer - stupid cancer - was about to be a full time job - for me, for Liza and for a team of hundreds of people who work in the hospitals and the regional cancer centre. How could a cure possibly be shared when what seems to be 40% of the workforce is employed by the disease?
In the week i had away from medical appointments i tried to focus on not being afraid. I tried to focus on how this could be ok. To focus on how i could be okay. To focus on the positives. It had not spread to my lymph nodes. They think they got it all. I have to give this my all. I have to honour what i said to my student's - "i got this. if anyone is going to kick cancer's butt it is me. Don't worry."
But i was worried - Terrified actually. The day we walked into the clinic for my first meeting with my care team was like walking into an IKEA cafeteria doing Idiotocracy doing death on a stick. Oh the smells. Burnt vegetable soup, burt people coming up from radiation, and burnt dust from the vents. That first floor was littered with an assortment of the nearly dead, soon to be dead, and those waiting to pick up the bodies i just mentioned. Had i seen a wooden wagon and heard an English accent i would have bolted. The place was stinky, packed and poorly signed. We had no idea where to go or what to do so we just watched the sea of sick go by until i saw a person with hair, natural colour in their face and what appeared to be a Walmart greeter like vest.
We were directed to a desk. We named the Dr. They asked again. It was like SNL. " And YOU are.?"
"Um trying not to die."
Eventually we found a staircase - i cannot stand elevators - and made our way to the 3rd floor. I was trembling. Even Liza - always put together - was quiet. I tried not to cry but tears welled up and snuck down my cheek zig zagging a path thru the bronzer i had caked on to look semi -well.
Now i just looked like malibu barbie convulsing in a microwave.
I tried to look around - to get it all in - to make it familiar - part of my new now - but i was not ready to see what i saw. Take a number to get your blood tested. In a room with three other people. Like an orthodontist Wait here for nurse. Stay behind this line. Have your health card ready. Bring your medication list. Swipe your health card here and use the kiosk to record your symptoms. Finally i made eye contact with a woman who had the look of Hilary Clinton. The i can survive and do anything look. Oh, and a nice pantsuit.
" I am gone need a pant suit." I said to Liza - or maybe just big girl panties to..." and off i started to ramble until my name was called. Top volume. Yup. Kelly Dear has cancer. Awesome. Bring it.
The nurses who work in the cancer clinic are Tough. Brave. Compassionate. This gal was also personable, open minded, astute, kind and a dog lover. Whew. A go to when talking about cancer got overwhelming. Which it did really quickly. i have no idea what happened but as my head was spinning Liza took a lot notes in her little Kelly notebook and then the door opened.
Dr.'s who work in the cancer clinic are all the things i mentioned above but add one key factor. They are WAY more scary than cancer. How a five foot nothing woman in heels and a REALLY sharp pant suit can take up that must real estate in a door way is a marvel.
And my oncologist turned out to be an absolute marvel. In that marvel comics kind of way. You cannot see her cape but i know she has one - and her super power is fighting cancer.
I did not get to say much - and i know i did not hear much. But there are four things i remember about that first meeting with Dr. P.
She eats cancer for breakfast.
She is going to give me the best standard of care for my ( insert diagnosis here) cancer.
She comes in from Toronto just to take on cases like this.
She likes soup.
Which is a good thing because at the end of those three hours i was completely squashed, pureed burnt out and ready to be poured back into my own bones.
And this was only day one.