Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Last Tuesday marked my second cancer check-up for year two. Shannon and I arrived an hour early. The appointment duration can vary between thirty minutes and over two hours. The wild card this time, though, included a brand new cancer clinic built over the last couple months. The room spread out neatly with the receptionist desks directly across from the automatic glass doors, the laboratory far to the right, and patient seating surrounding it all in a half-circle. Clean and neat wood floors covered the sterile clinic. The food stand offered some excellent blueberry doughnut holes.
A regular appointment includes three stops: blood draw, x-rays, and meeting with the doctor. I quickly learned that the x-rays and doctor visit would occur in different parts of the hospital. This became something like a NASCAR race, speeding around with frequent pit stops. I raced from check-in to give blood. Then we walked around the hospital to radiology, only to be directed down another hallway to meet my doctor. I asked him how much input the MD’s had in the design of the new facility. His disdainful look explained it all. Finally the checkered flag waved.
I am clear for another two months. In the midst of the race I failed to recognize something, probably because of the race, or maybe something scary in my heart: I treated this particular visit as lightly as a flu shot, merely an inconvenience. Walking under the cancer clinic doorway failed to sober me. Instead, I revved my engine to see how quickly we could leave. It was not due to fear or denial, but rather forgetfulness. I focused on other things: eating lunch with Shannon, getting back to work, task lists. Like Old Testament Israel, I failed to remember dependence. I am taking this journey for granted, and that alarms me. I wish it terrified me more than cancer.