A lot has changed at the clinic I go to since my cancer gig began a little over a year ago. At that time the cancer area was located on the fifth floor along with general surgery, plastic surgery and urology. Generally whenever I arrived for an appointment, there was a lengthy line and a waiting room filled with people of various sizes, ages and stages of whatever. A new cancer wing was under construction during my diagnosis and chemotherapy months, only opening up this past February. All I got to do was look at it from that bird’s eye view from the fifth floor.
At my most recent oncology appointment, my husband remarked, “Gee, I guess your timing was a little off.”
“Yes,” I said, “too bad we’re not doing chemo this summer.”
Of course, we were both being sarcastic.
When I was undergoing chemotherapy last summer and fall, the ‘chemo rooms’ were a bit crowded at times. No, actually they were really crowded all of the time. The recliners were lined up side by side so close to each other if you didn’t know better, you might have thought you were sitting in a movie theater about to watch the summer’s latest flick. Come to think of it, the nurses did come around offering ‘refreshments’ and often did dim the lights. Bizarre.
I’m not anti-social or anything, but I didn’t really like the ‘buddy system’ during chemo. I didn’t want to hear everyone’s cancer story or listen in on everyone else’s conversations. But I often did. I didn’t want to hear the person sleeping next to me snoring or try to tune out the sound of the annoying TV show they were watching. But I often did. I didn’t want to hear the chemo nurse go through her ‘drill’ every time explaining whichever drug she was administering that day and all the nasty side effects the poor unsuspecting soul sitting in the recliner could expect. But I did.
Privacy, there was
very little none of that.
When I was being infused, I was on a mission and that mission was to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. All I wanted to do was get plugged in, stick my head in whatever book I was reading and glance at the clock periodically. The hours could not pass quickly enough for me.
My husband was the only person I ever ‘allowed’ to go in the chemo room with me. And his chair was of the uncomfortable whatever-type-happened-to-be-available kind. My kids never accompanied me. I didn’t allow that. I didn’t want them to have the memory of sitting there observing me in a chemo chair. Plus, there never would have been enough chairs for them anyway!
Maybe I’m an odd ball, but that’s how I coped.
Back to 2011.
Now at the ‘new and improved’ cancer clinic, the cancer patient has his or her own wing. It’s wonderful. Cancer people don’t have to share their space with non-cancer people. There is a private entrance. This is really nice because sometimes when you are undergoing treatment you want to be as inconspicuous as possible. Plus, you don’t have to ride an elevator to the fifth floor standing three feet (or less) from people who are staring at your port thinking, oh you poor thing. Or worse, what the heck is that? There are now private chemo rooms for anyone who wants one. There are also way more comfortable looking recliners, as well as more comfortable chairs for cancer companions.
Whoever designed the new addition is very wise, understands the needs of cancer people, knows someone who has had cancer or possibly even had cancer his or herself. Everything about the new cancer addition is better.
Well, everything that is except the cancer part.
It’s still a cancer wing, but it is a huge improvement and does make the experience of being in the oncology department a bit less unnerving. I did say a bit.
And even now, I can’t fathom the fact that I need an oncologist.
Yes, maybe this summer would have been a ‘better’ summer for chemo, but that’s ok. I’m glad chemo is behind me, even if my timing was a little off.
Has your timing ever been a little off?
How do you feel about your cancer treatment facility?