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My Timing Was a Little Off

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?

 

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Mandi

Thursday 14th of July 2011

Interesting to hear about all of the building! The cancer hospital that I go to is specifically for cancer. They have been building a huge new wing throughout my treatment. The hospital is already huge, and it does pain me that they need the additional room.

The infusion rooms were always bursting with patients. I didn't mind being surrounded by people! I did always get sat next to the person snoring the loudest though. :)

Nancy

Thursday 14th of July 2011

Mandi, It sounds like you have a nice cancer hospital, if there is such a thing. That's kind of a misnomer I guess isn't it? It is sad we need to keep building more and more of these facilities. Think of all the money we are spending on them that might be put to research and a cure. If only that was possible. Still, I'm thankful to have these facilites available, but if only...

pinkunderbelly

Tuesday 12th of July 2011

Good for you for not subjecting your kids to seeing you go through chemo. Although my mom was only sick for the last few years of her life and was vibrant and lovely the rest of the time before that, I have to work really hard to remember her not sick. I have to searrch my brain to remember her regular voice, not her sick voice, and I have to stretch to picture her well instead of bald, weak, and skinny. She tried to spare me from the worst of the whole mess, but some things were unavoidable. Ugh.

Nancy

Tuesday 12th of July 2011

Pinkunderbelly, I'm so sorry it's hard for you to remember your mom when she wasn't sick. Maybe that will get easier over time. I can seperate the two visions of my mom pretty easily most of the time. I try not to focus on her final months, but sometimes it is really hard, so I understand exactly where you're coming from. It's sweet your mom tried to spare you from the worst. That's a mom for you. Unfortunately, cancer doesn't really fully allow that does it? Thanks for sharing.

Alli

Tuesday 12th of July 2011

Nancey the hospital they are building is in the Niagara Region - St Catharines Ontario Canada...Not far from Niagara Falls itself approximately 10 miles..I thought about it later and realized how many Cancer Centers there are withing a 100 mile radius. There are at least 7 huge centers if not a few I have missed and not even realizing how little room is available..That to me is a disturbing fact....Alli.

Nancy

Tuesday 12th of July 2011

Alli, Thank you for clarifying that location. After your last comment about the need for so many cancer centers, I thought about that a bit more. It is disturbing isn't it? That is such a good point. We need more emphasis on prevention and cure that's for sure.

Jan Hasak

Sunday 10th of July 2011

Nancy, Great post, as usual! I'm sure you are truly glad that your chemo was last summer, regardless of the obviously posh setting of the new center. The photos tell of an impressive and welcoming new facility.

My timing was off the second time I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. My husband and I (without the kids just like you and for the same reasons) had to travel 30 minutes each way to get to the nearest cancer center. But this clinic had a healing garden to view and one private room. The private room always seemed to be vacant when I came, as if they were reserving it for me and my husband. A nice touch. And the cancer clinic was not shared with non-cancer patients, which was a plus.

In 2004 a new cancer facility opened four miles from my house with a private entrance and all the trappings. I just glanced into the infusion room so I don't know how many private rooms it has.

Still, I'm glad I had the chemo when I did. This nearer cancer center outgrew its building in a few years and may have to construct an addition because we have so many elderly people living in my neck of the woods. They didn't do their demographic homework.

I think our timing will always be a bit off, whether it's with new medical developments or new facilities. We live with it as part of life. I try to look on these things as improvements to benefit future generations. I got my improvements from those who went before me. And on it goes.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. Jan

Nancy

Sunday 10th of July 2011

Jan, Yes, I sure am glad my chemo was last summer, even if the conditions were a bit crowded and uncomfortable at times! The physical surroundings really aren't the important things anyway really, the people surrounding you are far more important aren't they? It must have been really nice to have that private room though. You are so right, in life it often seems like our timing is off on stuff doesn't it? We keep on muddling our way through the best way we can. And all the improvements we see are sure to benefit future patients. That's a good way to look at it. Thanks for sharing. I always look forward to your thoughts, Jan.

Tonya

Saturday 9th of July 2011

I did my chemo at a big Kaiser Permanente in my hometown. It wasn't specifically a "cancer" place, although I did walk into the wing that said "Chemotherapy suite" Makes it sound kind of swanky, eh? But for my radiation, I had to go to another place that said really big on the side of the building, "Southwest Cancer Care" That was really bizarre walking into a place labeled like that. Kind of a self-protective denial thing, I guess.

Nancy

Saturday 9th of July 2011

Tonya, Oh my gosh, "Chemotherapy Suite" that does sound almost swanky if you didn't know better! I have never heard it called that before. For some reason it makes me laugh. I know what you mean about walking into a place with a cancer label over the doorway, it just doesn't feel real does it? There is a sign at my clinic's entrance to the chemo area that says, '"for chemo patients and their families only." It makes me feel kinda ostrisized in a way, although I kind of like it at the same time. It's just an odd feeling all the way around I guess. Thanks so much for commenting, Tonya.

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