Spending time at the Kimmel Cancer Center never fails to be a teaching moment for me. Over the years I have learned so much about the cancer journey.
I was a newbie almost 15 years ago when Leroy was first diagnosed. I thought I knew the ‘lingo’ of cancer; I thought I knew how hard our path would be, and stupidly, I thought I could handle it all. I had so much to learn….some of it the hard way.
You all know the story of our journey.
I carry that story with me every day. And on the days when I’m walking the halls of the cancer center, I see myself in so many of the caregivers who are being brave and understanding next to their warriors who are fighting to live every day. In the outpatient center, they sit; anticipating what news their doctor will share. Will it be results of a recent scan? Will there be a change in treatment or maybe the words “You’re N-E-D.”
Then there are those walking through the lobby with those ‘cancer bags.’ Those bags hold the secrets to getting through the day. The morning paper is in there, the computer is in there, the cell phone, work from work because you never know how long the day will be once you get there. ‘Cancer bags’ carry a caregiver from one end of the day to the other.
And then there was today. They were hidden by the lush green landscape on a cement terrace that surrounds the cancer center. He had his arm around her and she leaned on his shoulder with her hands up, around her face. No one ever goes out there, so I’m sure he thought she’d be protected; a private place to cry where the pain of cancer news is not shared with the rest of the world. She was weeping. I don’t know why I happened to glance up while I was walking by, but when I saw her face, I felt her anguish.
It was another lesson from cancer that came rushing back; one of those teaching moments you wish you could forever bury.
Her tears were hidden from the rest of the world, but I’m sure she’ll remember them forever.