Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hanging in the chemo lounge

For 11 months I’ve quested for others like me, lung cancer surgery survivors … turns out I was looking for survivors in all the wrong places. 

Reading about a lung cancer survivor program elsewhere, I decided to call my oncologist, Margarita Gareis, MD with Andrews and Patel Associates. 

An oncology nurse in their chemotherapy department was aware of a patient in their other office who had put up a Lung Cancer Awareness bulletin board. She would call and ask if she would talk with me.
We set up a rendezvous for Monday in the chemo lounge as my contact was getting a saline treatment and would have time to talk. Originally diagnosed with Stage 4 and given just months to live, she is alive and kicking beginning her 4th year.  

My preconceptions of a chemo lounge could not have been any more wrong.  Lazy-boy recliners lined one wall with tables and space between them for IV drip poles. Contrasted to the somber even hushed protocol of the waiting room, the chemo lounge exploded with life. It was the epicenter of survivor support; chatty and full of laughter and noise.

Questions always fall out of my mouth. Yes, if one desires privacy there are private chemo rooms available. 

Looking around I noticed and inquired about the absence of barf bags like on airplanes. Doesn’t chemo make you nauseous? Smiling patiently survivors explained how some of the bags contained anti-nausea medication.  

Then I noticed and commented on how the varying colors of chemo bags hanging from the poles gave the lounge an almost festive atmosphere.  

Wi-Fi friendly there was seating along the opposite wall available for visiting family and friends. 

Discovering that I was seated between a 4 year Stage 4 lung cancer survivor and a 10 year Stage 4 lung cancer survivor, I fell to my knees and in my best impression of Wayne & Garth from Wayne’s World when they meet Alice Cooper began my “I am not worthy” routine. 

As if a twofer visit was not enough by attracting attention I hit the trifecta as a 2 year lung cancer surgery survivor in for a follow up appointment wandered by.   

Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @ http://caregivinglyyours.blogspot.com/

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