Over the past 14 months, I have found it easy and enjoyable to maintain this blog. It really doesn't take much effort to report on an event such as the "26.2 with Donna - The National Marathon to Fight Breast Cancer". Nor, does it take much effort to keep you informed on the people who help to make this race such a wonderful experience.
Several weeks ago I got to "go inside" and see firsthand a breast cancer patient receive her treatment. My friend Joan, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last fall, needed someone to accompany her for lab tests, doctor's examination and her "chemo" treatment. I think I was more nervous than she was. On second thought, I definitely was more nervous than she was!
Joan is receiving her treatment at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando. I have driven past the center hundreds of times, but never had the occasion to go inside. Walking to the front door was not unlike walking to the start of a marathon. Hundreds of thoughts were going through my mind. Only this time I was not familiar with what to expect behind the huge sliding glass doors. I know what to expect during a marathon.
The waiting rooms we went to were full with patients awaiting treatment for various cancers. There were men and women, young and old, various ethnic backgrounds, a cross-section of our population. It seemed as though no one was spared. I felt out of place. Why was I one of the fortunate people to be a "visitor", not one of the "patients". Why me? Why Joan?
As we moved from place to place within the center, I was struck by the positive attitude displayed by the staff. Trying to make the experience for the patient one of caring and comfort. Again, I encountered the patients, many ladies, many bandannas, not all pink. I was now coming face to face with what goes on behind the scenes. I felt as though I was beginning to "hit the wall", as can happen during a marathon. I wasn't giving up just as in a race, but the emotional involvement of the day was taking it's toll. I must go on.
Our last stop of the day, now about 2:30pm, was Joan to receive her "chemo" treatment. We went to a semi-private room, where the nurse took the "IV" and inserted it into Joan's port, a devise that was surgically implanted in her right chest. The machines were set and the "drip" began, it would take approximately 30 minutes to complete the process. At one point we were able to leave the room with the "IV" stand in tow. Off we went for a better view of downtown Orlando. As Joan reclined in the "chemo chair", I looked out over the city, not really seeing what was happening on the streets. What I could see was Joan's reflection in the window. Again the questions filled my mind........why? why? WHY?
Soon the machine sent out an audible tone indicating the process was finished. The nurse unhooked the "IV" and we were free to go. I felt the sensation of the marathon finish, I knew it was near and I had to muster the strength to get to the finish line, which like the start line, was two sliding glass doors.
The fresh air of the brisk March day felt clean and refreshing. I had done it, I had completed my "marathon" tour of a single day of a cancer patients experience. Much like any marathon I have ever run, I would not change a moment of the experience. I learned much about the process, I learned some things about myself, but most of all I learned an important lesson in the fight against breast cancer.
Tomorrow, Joan will once again head to M. D. Anderson for a treatment. This time her brother will be at her side. I'm sure I'll be back, just as I've come back to run other marathons. In retrospect, it wasn't me the observer who was running the marathon, it was the patient. My day with Joan was a 50 yard dash compared to the ultra-marathon she is running.
Give her strength, give all who are fighting this disease the strength to successfully complete their run. "Prayers and Love" to all who battle.
Joan....."I Love You!"