People talk to me when I am here. Other patients, sharing their happy news, their successful treatments and bright scan results. Or their hopes for all of the above.
Why do they pick me? I don’t feel particularly welcoming today.
Maybe it’s because I have the trappings of a patient, as do they. The hospital bracelet, the “I’ve been screened sticker” or maybe it’s the IV hanging out of the crook of my elbow that gives me away. Does being a fellow patient make me more approachable?
It could be that I’m not threatening to talk to because I don’t look sick. I have my hair, no scarf, only the smallest dark circles under my eyes and I’m strong and mobile. On my own, because I am still able to move myself freely through my world. Maybe I look, to them, like what they want their own experience to be – instead of the stark specter of what they hope to stave off.
“I was last here in January of 2020. I’m hoping my scan today shows they got it all!”
“I’m just here for my yearly check-in to make sure I’m still in remission. If it’s all good I won’t have to come back for 5 years!”
I respond with congratulations, or well wishes, the appropriate positive affirmation and then there’s the silence. A look that asks for my story. Maybe I’m a little bit grumpy today because I choose not to respond. I don’t feel like explaining that remission isn’t in the vocabulary for my cancer. Or that a good scan result isn’t “getting it all”. Or that even with a good result, I’ll be right back here again in 8 weeks.
I have hope too, it just doesn’t look like theirs.