Balanced Living with Cancer

One young family’s quest to find balance while living with cancer

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Only when They Look Past Me

April 24, 2012 | 11 Comments

“How is the woman in room 312 doing?” “Good. I thought that might be the case.”  “No! No! No! I told them Friday morning.  She’s having surgery on Friday morning.”  The dialog was familiar from a not so distant past.  “How are her secretin levels holding? Good! Conference was great.  Yeah, I saw Mangela there.  He’s doing well.”

Despite the other chatter around me as I waited for my plane, I could only focus on my neighbor’s phone conversation.  A young man, most assuredly a GI doctor from what I was hearing.  He spoke not with arrogance, but distinct self-importance.

My mind wandered to a time when my husband was a practicing gastroenterologist and then I pictured the young doctor in front of me in a wheel chair, hunched over, skin weathered, no hair, and looking aged from chemotherapy.  Once again the all too familiar words crossed my mind.  Cancer is such a waste of time.

My mind continued to wander thinking about my husband’s treatments, side effects, surgeries, coma, isolation, his medical practice dissolution, and his patients.  I am reminded of a time sitting with him at a major university hospital.  As he sat in his wheel chair and we waited for him to be admitted to pre-op for his seventh surgery on his leg, I asked him how hard was it to watch these young doctors walking by engaged in medical speak and looking so important in their white lab coats.  He looked at me and stoically replied, “Only when they look past me.”  “Look past you?  What do you mean look past you?”  He went on, a bit choked, which caught my full attention.  He spoke hesitantly, “As I was wheeling into the elevator, while you were parking the car, three doctors got on with me – an attending and two younger doctors. I think a fellow and an intern.” He paused.  “It was obvious I was slowing them down and it irritated them.”  “How do you know?” “The attending pushed passed me to get on the elevator and when I said I’m sorry for being in the way, he didn’t even acknowledge I was there.”  “Did you say something to them?”  “No. But I wanted to tell them I am one of you.  I am a physician.  And but for the grace of God, you could be in this chair.  Don’t’ ever forget that.”

“Good, Friday morning.  I’ll check on her after surgery.”

Copyright © 2012 Jeannie Moloo. All Rights Reserved.