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 Mom...in 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 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.