I’d come from a day full of cancer news. Some break out treatment news, some positive numbers on funding for research and patient care. A top notch researcher shared new information on his findings in the lab. He had tracked down a major culprit that caused a certain cancer. Any day cancer takes a step back is a good day and it felt like that kind of day.
The bell rang and the elevator door opened. I stepped in, thinking I was the only one inside, until I looked closer…the man, with his cane by his side, helping to prop-up the heavy frame and the slumping shoulders, barely looked up. He was the picture of sad. Anyone who has walked on a cancer floor in a hospital, or has been in a treatment center, has seen that look a million times and we all know when someone would rather be left to their thoughts, than to be disturbed by a stranger trying to be friendly, so I said nothing.
The elevator moved slowly downward to the parking garage. Level one, no comment. Level two, he looked up at me and I smiled but said nothing. His eyes filled with tears and he tried to smile back, but the conflict of emotions made that very hard. “Rough day?” I said in a low voice, reassuring him if he didn’t want to answer, that was OK too. He took a deep, long breath and let out a sigh. “I’m doing better than I’m supposed to be doing, I guess that’s something,” he said.
The bell rang again and we both made a move toward the opening doors. “Take care of yourself,” I said as he shuffled away in the direction of his car.
“If I don’t, this stuff will get me.” he said.
I watched him walk away, thinking it was a good thing he had a cane to handle the weight of those deep thoughts.
All those positives I had through the day were wiped-out by that chance elevator meeting.
Cancer won the day, after all.