I’m going to start keeping track of the more insensitive comments around my cancer care. I know that sounds petty, but like I give a shit.
This week’s winner… I was asked to let a man go ahead of me for treatment on Thursday. Poor guy needed a full bladder for radiation and he did not time things very well. Of course I had no problem with it. A nurse who does patient education (and whom I have never seen before) was waiting for him and decided to sit down and chat with me. She asked how I was doing and commented on my hair growth. Then she said “as far as we ( btw.. who is we? are you speaking in the royal sense or is there is a mouse in your pocket?) are concerned you can dye it anytime”. I felt a horrified giggle bubble up in my throat. I have been on auto pilot for a few weeks now and as long as I stay in neutral I can keep my shit together. I managed a weak smile and offered that I hadn’t decided yet and may just keep it as is. She got this frozen smile on her face and sputtered something about how I could probably get away with that, after all I had a young face. She must have missed a few classes on sensitivity. Not that I expect (or want) to be treated with kid gloves, but between the doctor who treated me like an inanimate object on Monday and now this I’m starting to wonder if this is commonplace. I have been so lucky in my interactions up until now that I was kind of unprepared. Or maybe now that I’m nearing the end of my cancer treatments my head is a little clearer and there have been assholes all along but I just didn’t notice.
I’m not nominating the next one for anything because I can’t think of one funny or sarcastic thing to say and this is supposed to be for fun. It actually left me kind of stunned. I saw my medical oncologist for the first time since finishing up with chemotherapy. I had (wrongly) assumed that my doctors all shared information about my treatment especially something like a major change in my family medical history. I missed a full week of radiation when my sister passed away. Yet, apparently there was no mention of it so I had to tell the nurse when she asked brightly how my summer was going. Believe me when I say it doesn’t get easier with each telling. She passed on the info to my doctor who expressed her sympathy as soon as she entered the exam room. After asking a few questions she said she had a patient who just lost a daughter and that was probably worse. I just said yeah, it’s been pretty hard on my parents. What I wanted to say is.. of course it’s worse for a mother to lose a child, but it’s also pretty fucking horrible for a child to lose his mother and a sister to lose her only sibling. Not to mention for a man to lose the woman he loved who he hadn’t had nearly enough time with, three little boys to lose a loving presence in their life, and for their mother to lose a trusted confidant. But I just sat there. Because I didn’t want to make her feel bad.
Honestly, the hospital really wants to stop sending me those questionnaires. I may start filling them out.