A Brief Conversation With A Cancer Patient

Most of us have been affected in some way by cancer.

A couple of members of our family struggled with lung and skin cancers.

I had the chance to visit the a state of the art cancer treatment facility once, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

It’s a sprawling place, almost like a Team Umizoomi city with conveyor belt bridges to transport its many patients back and forth from ward to ward. As you walk the center, you don’t know necessarily who is the patient and who is the preoccupied family member or friend.

In and around M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, there are buses and taxis waiting to transport people to where they need to go.

I was on a bus one day.

I was thinking about a lot of things at once. Did I want to quit my job? Did we want to have more kids? Boy, I wish our house would sell. I could not believe the hail storm had hit right as we put our home on the market. Why is my son teething while my husband is away for training? Why does my daughter have chronic ear infections? When is life going to become less hurried and stressful?

A very nice woman sat next to me. She was much older than I was and she had a beautiful smile. She asked a lot of questions about me and listened attentively. “You’re a new mom. That IS so stressful,” she said. “Oh, you’re just visiting. How nice of you!” she said very genuinely.

As we neared our stop, I wanted to ask her some questions. “Who are you visiting?”

And she told me she wasn’t visiting anyone. She was a patient.

She had survived breast cancer. And she recovered. Then she was diagnosed with skin cancer. And then it metastasized to the bone.

She laughed and said, “I’m a regular here!”   She explained that she just takes care of herself, and flies in regularly, and thinks and hopes for the best always.

I didn’t know what to say.

She was so bright-hearted and open and it belied her condition.

She was so friendly and upbeat and wise and attentive.

That was one of the biggest short conversations of my life.

I didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for our circumstances after she got off the bus.

I never even got her name.

And I think of her often.

I do hope she’s doing alright.

I wish I could ask her name so I could send a “Thank You” card.

This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society.  


16 Responses to A Brief Conversation With A Cancer Patient

    • I hope the best for your friend, Pamela. I do count my blessings every day- the woman I wrote about has a lot to do with that! :)

  1. My grandmother is a patient at MDA, and she just loves the staff there. She comes home every month or so after her checkup and treatment and just raves about how she is treated. I am truly thankful for the group there and the way they make the fight easier in whatever way possible.

    • Julie- My husband and I both noticed that MDA’s staff and volunteers were just so upbeat and compassionate. That is one great facility and it is nice to know that people don’t have to worry about tough bedside manners who go there! I hope your grandmother is doing well! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and we are not even with her when she knew. She’s in Louisiana Trish and she’s doing okay now it was early detection.

    This post is so moving. I hope the cheerful strong woman is inspiring others more and also that she have a lot of family cheering her on also.

    • Oh, Ava! That must have been tough to hear and deal with. I’m glad she is doing better. I really am. Cancer is such a scary thing. I hope the woman has friends and family, too….maybe I’ll see her again, one day!

  3. Thanks for posting this. One of my closest friends survived breast cancer (diagnosed just before she turned 30). It’s been 7 years and I’m glad to say her amazing spirit (and some great doctors) have kept her alive and well.

    • Yes, it is- and I’m still guilty of doing that, still. But, the memory of that bus ride usually kicks my priorities back into line…. :)

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