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Meeting a Chemosabi on Veteran’s Day

November 9, 2012

I park my car in the parking =garage of the Stanford Hospital Cancer Center. In the car next to mine I see a a man in his fifties helping his wife into the passenger seat and saying,”You okay?” He closes the door and we wind up walking alongside each other.

“How did your day go?” I say.

“More tests,” he says somberly.

I’m wearing my Rely For Life T-shirt. It’s chilly, But I don’t put on my jacket because the back of my shirt says I’m a survivor. It’s my uniform I wear when I go to the hospital. And I return like a veteran. I’m there to help.

“Well, I was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, and I came out of chemo and so far I’m, clear.”

“You have, he says. He stops and looks at me. Instead of a conversation. He knows I’ve been there and this is a real moment. “She had a lump in her breast removed and now she has these back problems, and we had a friend who discovered he had cancer in the spine and the way they found it was his complains about back pain.”

“Well, it;s 60-40,” I reply. “60 percent you worry that it’s cancer and 40 percent it could just be nothing,. The hardest thing about getting over cancer is that every ache youy feel you think it could be back. And worry about it is a way of staying humble, keeping your guard up.”

“That’s true,” he nods.

“But sometimes it’s just an ache and a pain,” I say. “But you always have to knock wood, hoping it’s something else. But worrying about it helps you prepare for the worst so you can handle it when it comes. But sometimes you just knock wood all the time.”

“That’s right.”

I can see I gave him something to handle this.

Later I ran into another person who had to get chemo for bone marrow, and asked, “How is your taste?”

I’d say the guy was in his late sixties, and he and his wife had come down from CHico for treatment. He said, “It’s not all back yet.”

“I went for pretzels and salted bagels.”

“He’s not supposed to have salt,” said his wife, laughing.

“Who cares man? You went through chemo, bone marrow transplant. They told me I shouldn’t eat sushi. But I could taste it so I ate it. If you can taste something you taste it! It’s life! It makes you feel alive, it makes you stronger. Taste it, taste it. It has to make you stronger! It reminds you you’re alive.”

He smiled, so did his wife. I connected a feeling for them. And I wasn’t preaching, because I performed without a church.

I was going to Stanford for a testosterone fill-up. But I brought the oncology nurses doughnuts, gave them the tip section of my cancer book. Laster, I had to get some blood drawn and ran into two of the nurses who gave me chemo. They looked up, then their eyes widened as they recognized me and they smiled,”Fred! Your hair, You look so healthy.” They gave me a hug. I handed them my list of tips and talked about the importance of ports and discussed how when I started to feel healthy I felt detached from the chemo world.

I said,”Hey I want a kiss on my cheeks and they stood on either side of me and gave one. I added, “I just got a testosterone fill-up so watch out!”

We laughed.

Oh, to be back in this world again. And making my presence known–and helping!




One Comment leave one →
  1. Laureen permalink
    November 19, 2012 5:29 pm


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