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.

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