You never know

Today the official countdown begins. My port will be put in place on Tuesday and chemotherapy treatment will begin next Thursday. One week. Someone told me today that I seemed calm, considering what the next week will bring.

I made a list of the things I wanted to accomplish before I begin treatment – a shopping list of things that will make managing the side effects easier, prescriptions to pick up, blood work, etc. While treatment will not be disabling, it will be uncomfortable and I want to accomplish what I can ahead of time to make life easier once it starts.

The prep work that goes into treatment takes up a lot of time. I’ve lost count of the doctor appointments already, plus the scans that are needed and the phone calls and the paperwork. Experiencing so much in such a short amount of time has given me exposure to a lot of people. My doctors and nurses are amazing – truly incredible. They have embraced me, reassured me and answered questions that I didn’t know I had. The overwhelming majority of interactions that I have had in recent weeks have been pleasant, if not wonderful. These interactions have made the experience just a little easier, whether it was through a laugh over the phone, a pleasant smile or the reassurance that I am making the right decision. They have been through this with other patients before me and understand the toll it can take.

There were a few occasions that went against this norm. People that seemed unhappy in general and spoke to me as a number or the “next in line” rather than a person – a person facing a life altering battle. It generally catches me off guard, when I encounter someone like this. I am ashamed to admit that on one occasion I responded to such a person with, “I have cancer. I just need your help to make this happen.” She helped, without further hesitation.

I learned today that two people I interact with daily are facing their own battles, similar to mine, and have been for many years. They are both strong, happy people who always greet me with a smile. Yet I had no idea that they were experiencing something so similar to me. You never know the challenge that someone is facing.

Maybe I am calm. Maybe I am taking this better than expected. I won’t put my life on hold for this. I won’t let it consume me. I won’t let it cause me to be unhappy. I won’t let it give me an excuse to be mean to other people.

I will continue to greet each person that I meet with a smile. I will continue to be kind. I will continue to treat others as I hope they will treat me. Because you don’t know the battle that person is facing. You don’t know the lives you may be impacting. You don’t know the way your smile may brighten someone’s day.

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