Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Mom had Clinic today.

Her Oncologist likes to keep a close eye on his patients' blood and counts even when they're between treatments, so every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, we get up early to beat the traffic and find a parking place in downtown Birmingham.

The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and the attached Kirklin Clinic are mazes that we have pretty much conquered at this point, but I remember how overwhelming it felt on the first day we arrived. 

When we go to Clinic, I drop Mom off at the front door while I drive around in circles in the parking garage.  Arriving after 7:30 a.m. pretty much guarantees you'll get to ride all the way to the top and park on the roof.

By the time I park and walk over to the Clinic, Mom has checked in, received her paperwork, and is waiting in a room full of other cancer patients.
Some are there for blood checks...some are there for chemo.  
The back room is full of seats...chair by chair for the patients to sit for the hours it takes for their chemo meds to run.  

There are so many kinds of cancers...and so many kinds of patients.  When we're at Clinic, we're mixed in with all of them.   Some are like pretty good shape, bouncing back, preparing for their next rounds.  Some have smiles on their faces and greet each other as they walk in the door.  
Others don't.  
Others have masks on, their eyes closed, curled up in blankets, or in wheelchairs.

The room is always full though. 

Mom has a sacred spot she likes over on one corner of the room.  She's there reading her Guideposts magazines when I arrive.

My Clinic read is this: 

Yes, I said yesterday I'm in a reading slump like I've never been.  But, my attention doesn't wain when I'm reading this.  
I underline, annotate, circle, and have to fight my desire to Google everything right there in the waiting room (which would be impossible anyway bc the Internet is ridiculously non-existent in this part of the building).
Obviously I have a stake in Mukherjee's bio of cancer.  But, what would seem to be a dry, boring read is absolutely not.  Mukherjee's weaves history within narratives (his own and patients) to explain the stops, stalls, and starts of CANCER (intentional all caps).

I'm stunned by the recent dates...cancer researchers have made a lot of major discoveries just in the last 25-30 years.
But, there is so much we still do not know.
There are so many people sitting and waiting...willing to accept the treatment that literally poisons them in order to cure them...or at least to try and slow the cancer down. 

My mom's Leukemia is still in remission.  Her chemo is to keep the Leukemia from re-occurring.  Cancer hides and builds itself back up, stronger than ever sometimes.

In order to cure, the body has to first be taken to its breaking point.  
Can it survive?  Can it build itself back up?  
There are no easy answers...there is no schedule to follow.  
My brother, the accountant, thinks there should be.  
I'm getting used to the schedule that isn't.  Why make a schedule if you can't stick to it?

Keep on keepin' on.


  1. I think it's good that you continue to share your feelings here. It sounds so overwhelming, the process, the schedule, etc. But you have maintained a very positive outlook through it all. Hang in there. Thinking of you and your mom, always.

    1. Thanks, Ti...I'm not so positive most of the a matter of fact, I feel pretty snarky most of the time :P But, this is a safe place for snark! Thank Goodness!

  2. Our cancer clinic just established a parking program. We simply drive up, and sign a little slip of paper releasing them of liability, and then we go inside and they park our cars. Its free and no tipping allowed. It really has gone well. And your clinic observations sound very similar to mine. Am so considering the book- have wondered how it would read- thanks for enlightening me!

    1. What a great idea!! I would have never believed The Emperor of all Maladies would be as approachable and readable as it is! It's really good and I recommend it to anyone going through this journey.

  3. First of all, I didn't realize you live in Alabama - we've lived there twice. Second of all, I'm sorry your family is having to go through this - cancer is such a horrible disease and it affects the whole family.

    1. It really does, Kathy...we are weathering the storm...not always in the greatest ways or with the most positive attitudes...but we are weathering it :)