Monday, August 5, 2013.
Today, I received an unexpected blessing. It was a day for extra IV fluids and I have to admit that I almost called in “sick” to being sick. Going to the infusion lab isn’t always a happy event. Last week, I was set next to a lady who talked non-stop about how she’d had chemo 15 times in the last seven years and how cancer just kept popping up in new places and that she’d never been in remission for more than 11 weeks. It was as if the infusion lab were a stage as she verbally reenacted (with great relish) the last seven years to an audience held captive with no place or way to escape.
I felt sorry for her but also found her story oppressing – and depressing. It was hard for me to applaud her courage and bestow the sympathy she was seeking, because what I really wanted was for her to hush and quit talking. It’s easy for the hard stories to bring you down, especially when you don’t feel well yourself. It can be even harder to shake the hard stories and leave them behind when you go home. Negative energy on this journey isn’t my friend – and, I’m selfish about the kind of energy I surround myself with. Her story was so overwhelming that it left me somewhat depressed. As a result of the personal drama reenactment, I was still suffering a bit of the blues today. I really didn’t want to go in but I also didn’t want another trip to the hospital so dutifully showed up like the good little warrior that I pretend to be. I’m glad I did for an unexpected blessing waiting for me.
There, by the sign in sheet was a vase of some of the most beautiful yellow roses that I’ve seen. Now, you have to understand, I have a thing about yellow roses. The first Valentine’s Day I spent with Cotton, he took me for a sunset sail on Lake Travis. Among other delights, the cooler was filled with yellow roses. When he officially asked me to marry him, the proposed was accompanied by dozens of yellow roses. Of course, we were surrounded by yellow roses when we married. You might say that yellow roses are “our” flower so it was natural that the roses would catch my eye.
What attracted my attention more than the flowers was the note taped to the vase. The roses were a gift to each and every cancer patient there – a precious gift of beauty from a young woman who was a five year survivor of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Triple Negative is the very same rare (and deadly) type of breast cancer that I have. When Berta presented me with my rose, I cried. I cried for joy for the life of the woman who has now survived five years because five years ago, there wasn’t a lot of hope for triple negative breast cancer. I cried for the survivor’s kindness in sharing her joy and encouragement for life with others. I cried for myself because the rose was a healing balm to my soul which has become increasingly weary on this journey. I cried for joy for the promise of life the rose symbolized.
I almost skipped the IV session today. I almost missed the blessing of the rose. Before I left, one more blessing was waiting for me. The woman sitting across from me in the infusion lab was clutching her rose tightly. You could tell she’d been crying – a lot. One of my dear nurses told me it was her first day and she was having a rough time. Would I mind talking to her? Me? Talk to someone one? Wow. No, I don’t mind. I understand. To talk and ease the burden of another is a blessing. The journey called cancer is hard – and can sometimes be overwhelming. You want to run – you want to hide – you want to curl up in a ball. But, instead you stand and with yellow roses in hand, you fight.
(c) 2013. Mary Kyle. All rights reserved.