There are so many healthcare members that make up a cancer patient’s medical team before, during and after treatment. You want an oncologist who is caring, a radiation team who’ll listen to your concerns and a chemotherapy PA who helps you navigate your side effects successfully. You may see these people more than your own family so you really want successful partnerships. You literally are putting your life in their hands and these people become your ‘Dream Team’.But what about those other everyday team members you see all too frequently during treatment. The unsung hero who’s name you may not always remember (thank you chemo fog) but they leave a lasting impression because they took the time to hear you and you connected with them
Like the receptionist at your infusion center who always has a smile and a kind hello for you. Maybe it’s the phlebotomist who knows your veins like the back of her own hand. Or the hospital nurse who gives you some of her lavender essential oil because it’s your third stay in the past two months. Or how about the diagnostic technician who looks just like Dr. McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy and it makes you blush. Every time.
These people become the extras in your own Lifetime movie. You talk about their fishing trip to a place you both know well, or you bond over the difficulty raising a tween. These connections and conversations helped me to forget for a moment why I was in that hospital bed or infusion center. These interactions made me feel ‘normal’ when everything else in my life was completely out of control. Just wanting things to be ‘normal’ is often what I craved the most.
One of my favorite moments was at my final chemotherapy session. It was a very long eight hour infusion, and I may have been the only patient left in the infusion center. I noticed there wasn’t a bell to ring like I saw so many patients do on social media. It seemed so anticlimactic — no drumroll or dancing unicorns? So I sat there holding my husband’s hand and we both got a bit teary.
Suddenly I had a kind of out-of-body experience and I started singing Semisonic’s Closing Time, and very badly I might add. “Closing time you don’t have to go home…” And then from across the room I hear my nurse belt out, “but ya can’t stay here.” We all laughed through our tears and hugs were shared.
I recall this memory when I need a reminder that the world is filled with kindness, even in our darkest moments and that there are amazing nurses, doctors, healthcare providers that give 110% to all their patients. These are my heroes.
Carol Lacey is our Lead Cervivor Ambassador and has been advocating on behalf of Cervivor since 2016. Watch Carol share her story on CervivorTV.