My Face

I am home from my trip to Houston where I received the incredible news that I remain an outlier...No Evidence of Disease! This is very exciting! It also indicates to me that I just can't keep living in the is body that has been decimated by my cancer treatments. I have been left exhausted, weak and frankly very "soft" in the wake of all that has happened to this ailing carcass I possess. I really haven't done much physical exercise consistently in the last 5 years, what with my cancer battle and all going on, but it's time to get serious and build some muscle and some endurance. In other words, I need to get my ass to the Y. 

With "true confessions of an out of shape middle aged woman" out of the way I want to share my experience at MD Anderson this past visit. We (my husband and I) left on a Sunday. The weather was forecasted to be balmy so we packed our shorts and short sleeved t-shirts in anticipation of the warm contrast to the current Fall temperatures we've been used to. The drive was beautiful as we cruised South the fall colors fading back to green each mile the closer Houston.

On Monday morning we were up early allowing an hour and a half to navigate the 25 miles between Cypress and Texas Medical Center. It sounds crazy, I know, but it took us all of that time to cover that distance. This was going to be quite a day because it's would be only the second time ever in all my time of testing that I was going to receive my scan and results on the same day. I was excited about that. No waiting. A treat, of sorts, really. Jerry dropped me off at the door and went to park the car in Garage 10, our designated parking garage. I hopped on the escalator just inside the doors of the Mays Clinic entrance being careful not to touch the rails. You know, germs. I rode the moving staircases and was delivered just outside the laboratory I was assigned to for my blood draw. Let me tell you, the place was PACKED! People were spilling out into the atrium and around the elevator bay area leaning against walls and even sitting on the floor. The waiting room was worse. I made my way to the sign in table and grabbed a green sign in slip that is required by the lab as a sign in. I fill out my name and medical record number and other required information including a couple of new questions about ebola and my travel history. When I completed it I wound my way through the crowd to the check-in desk and deposited my slip, face down, in the little wire basket. I lucked out as a seat right near the desk was vacated just as I turned around. Nobody else that was standing made a move for it so I took a seat. From my perch I was able to observe the entire waiting area. I took out my phone and text my husband where I was sitting. I knew he was stopping to get coffee in the lobby and I was secretly jealous. Well, maybe I didn't make it quite a secret. I tucked my cell back into my pocket and settled back to watch people. I played "who's the patient" in my mind for a little while but then found myself just looking at all the faces. The faces of cancer and those of the people who love and care for them. Young and old. Pale and tan. Smiling and sad. A world wide representation of people some looking so tired and others, like me, their plight virtually undetectable on the surface. Hair in various stages of growth, wigs, ball caps or just embraced baldness. So many faces. I wonder what they were thinking as they looked at me. I feel like an Olympic athlete in this sea of people. I look pretty good, even with being completely out of shape. I am not wheelchair dependent, I walk without help, my hair regrown and with the pallor of post treatment no longer evident on my complexion it's impossible to tell what I've been through. My identifier, the telltale patient bracelet around my left wrist and the fact that I am in the waiting room of the Mays Clinic Lab. My comrades in arms in the battle against cancer just know where I've been. They understand that no matter how someone might appear in this moment that a battle has taken place. We are all gladiators. You can tell some are in the throws of the rumble while others are panting having just finished their match. Then there are contenders like me that have risen from their most recent round and have backed away hoping the beast doesn't rise again in the arena.

I am roused from my reverie by a lab technician calling my name. I stand and see all eyes turn on me as I make my way to the entrance of the lab doors. I smile at the people and give a little greeting to those whose eyes meet my own. A knowing nod, warrior to warrior. The faces of cancer...my face.

Helen Marshall threw a punch at your cancer.
John sent you a prayer.
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You are the face of hope and comfort to all of those battling...and you are an angel! God Bless you XOXO
Michele likes this comment
Oh how I can relate. After my six month scans I actually had to go back the following week to London to see the consultant as I hadn't seen him for a year. The out patients waiting room was full. It was a beautiful day outside and I felt really well and looked "normal" My train times meant I had an hour to wait for my appointment so I treated myself to a sandwhich and a drink and read my Kindle. I felt very aware that people were looking at me as I didn't look ill enough to be a patient - I wanted to shout "Yes I am one of you but I have come through this & so can you - just keep fighting" When my name was called I stood up, gathered my coat and walked very tall to the clinic still being watched. I hope I gave those still undergoing treatment some help in knowing there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Hugs Annabelle
Michele, Shara like this comment
Beautiful! Just like you!! Love to read your posts....they make me feel so good and I love your inspiration...being 3B again ...first time Hodgkins...makes me very nervous but your posts make it a lot better. Love and hugs xoxo😘😘😘
Michele likes this comment
So glad I can help Cindy! Writing makes me feel such release...catharsis at it's finest for me :)
Michele,

Having spent many hours, days, weeks, months and now years going in and out of Mays, Main building, the roc, Bellaire locations at MDA Houston I can speak from experience that your description was perfect! I too look "normal" on the outside but it always amazes me the shear volume of people that go through there everyday that look like (from my perception) so much much more beaten down than me. In a way, it helps me to remember that there is always someone out there that is worse off than me (keeps me focuse on the task at hand). I have met and made friends with people there, shared stories and tried to help others get through "the system" ...no easy task when you are but a number. When I first got there and they gave me my medical record nuber, I thought there is no way I'm going to remember that...now I say it in my sleep.
I am so glad that you are doing so well...you ispire me to keep on going, because I too am a fighter and I never give up (even when I have convinced myself that I can't continue!) I am striving to hear those three little letters N E D!
You never know, maybe one of these times when you are in Houston, you will look over and see me sitting next to you and we can share a knowing look that we have made it to the otherside!
Always,
Maya
Michele likes this comment
Maya,
You inspire me!
Michele
I totally get how it is to walk into one of those waiting rooms, filled with people who are obviously ill. The looks and stares I get are ones of question, as if those people as asking me with there eyes "What are you doing here?" I am fit and well (as far as I know) and look and feel out of place whenever I sit in those waiting rooms. I find my heart aching for those whose outcomes will not be as good as mine.

Now about that exercise, girlie! You can do it! Start with baby steps and work your way up. A nice set of light weights and/or exercise tubing should definitely be on your Christmas list if you don't already have them. Pumping iron will make you look and feel strong. Get a good pair of running shoes for walking--do not buy walking shoes! Have someone in a running store fit you for the right pair for your feet, then you'll be ready to take off! I just bought my first pair of Hoka Bondis not long ago and I absolutely love them! You can do this--you can do anything you're determined to do, my friend!

Hugs!
Martha
Michele likes this comment
Hi Michele.
I am just 5 weeks post treatment and feeling great. When I walk through the doors of the cancer centre where I was treated, It brings back every step of how I got there. To being diagnosed to my first oncologist appt to my first time at the lab(not knowing the ways things worked and having other cancer Pts showing me the way.) I now sit for follow up exams and think to myself I am one of you and just because I look healthy now ,I still have the same hope and fear as all of you sitting here. We all have a amazing story to tell

Michele likes this comment
Oh, such fabulous news! Thank you for sharing your good news with us.
Michele likes this comment
Imagine, outside of that waiting room, on a busy street, a grocery store, anywhere, we are often seeing those faces or their caregiver's face every day and don't even know their story. Cancer certainly can make us more compassionate. I love that you gave a greeting to those whose eyes met your own. That's heart and soul!
Michele likes this comment
Great read my sister warrior😊
Michele likes this comment
I am still doing the happy dance whenever I think of your NED ;)
Michele likes this comment
Happiness is .... You! love your post Michele.. hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
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Vital Info

Posts

October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3

No

As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. http://tinyurl.com/72bjjfp

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