The first trip to the waiting room is scary. It doesn’t matter if it means waiting for chemo or radiation or if the nurse has handed you a cup of ‘flavored’ liquid that will morph into contrast because it’s scan day. It’s still the first day and you keep to yourself, pretending to be brave, pretending you can handle whatever they throw your way.
You get in, you get out and on the drive home, you’re replaying the scene over and over again. Will I look like the guy in the corner who has lost all his hair? Will I eventually need a day bed like the person who had the covers pulled all the way up over his head?
On your next visit, you recognize a few faces from the first visit. You don’t quite make eye contact, when that familiar face sends a smile your direction. You smile back. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you’re in a conversation with a few of the patients you remember from a few weeks ago. They are on the same treatment schedule and you are now in this together.
The fight is no longer just you facing down cancer. You have comrades in the battle. Maybe even a couple of your new found friends have a similar diagnosis.
One thing is for sure, you’re guard is down and you can relax. You can talk about your fears because they have the same fears. You can talk about some of the tricks of the trade. How spearmint gum works to knock down the nausea or how ginger tea calms your stomach. And as the weeks go by, you talk about your choices for treatment, how your cancer has changed your life and what you’re doing to stay strong: stay in the game. Most everyone has a plan.
This is a very important part of the fight plan. You need their support and they need you too.