Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Everything Old is New Again, and Again.

At the Cancer Center for treatment today, I had a sudden blast from the past
Flashback to the early-nineties. Reminding me of when healthy people were first diagnosed with HIV; everything was fine as long as they remained relatively healthy. Friends were always on hand for dinners, parties, movies, or quiet evenings at home playing board games. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, and cut-throat sessions of Monopoly were always in order.  Remember, I was part of the Buddy system back then.

But at a visible sign of illness (like KS lesions) or hospitalization (usually PCP) those friends, those happy times evaporated, were history.  Never to be repeated. Friends and family vanished overnight. The very time when a person needed someone most was when he/she was deserted, essentially labelled DEAD already. And no one wanted to be a part of that messy time.  Oh, the hospital stories I could tell…


 This is what drew my attention today at the Cancer Center for the first time.  I don’t know why I didn’t recognize it earlier, the ugliness is unmistakably there. Maybe I’m the only one to notice it. I saw a lot of it 25 years ago. 

Many patients are my age and older, but there is a group of younger men and women dealing with the same, or worse, cancer diagnoses  and treatments. Some who used to be transported by friends/family members now arrive by taxi, or assisted hospital van - alone. 

Seems things never change. Folks are squeamish about the seriousness of the illness a friend or loved one is dealing with, and suddenly have other things to do. Sometimes they come back to pick up the patient, but only when called by nursing staff that all treatments are over for the day. 

As usual, the patients buy into the excuses and denial wins the day.  Very sad. Nothing for it, though. I try to chat with these patients about their current treatment and add my own experiences.  It helps relax them a little.  Like, we’re in this together and it’s OK to talk about it.  Especially with the nursing staff.

Still, it makes me sad to see anyone tossed aside as if they’re lives were nothing.  I’m already alone, so no need to suffer such indignities, myself.

We just keep plugging along.  Laughter is the best therapy, and we do a lot of that when I’m around. At least until they drug me, that is.  And sometimes that’s a good thing. 

Besides, I’m still riding high on the energy from last Friday’s Happy Hour shindig. 

And so it goes.


  1. when I was diagnosed with cancer in 1989, my (now ex) husband deserted me. I went to my appointments alone. he bitched about having to take off work the day of my surgery.

    then, the day he was to take me home, he refused to take off work; made me sit in the hospital all day, THEN when he DID show up, he was pissed that he got a speeding ticket. "you caused me to get a speeding ticket" he grumped when he showed up in my room.

    yeah, I dumped his ass.

    my family also deserted me. OK, they lived in PA and I lived in VA, but still.

    yeah, I dumped their asses too.

    the ONLY people that stood by me were my then co-workers. so when todd and I got married (22 years ago), all my co-workers were invited. my parents and sister were not. my parents have never met todd; my sister has.

    all this to say you and your fellow center patients are not alone. true friends/relations DO NOT desert you when times get tough.

    1. AM, Thanks for sharing such a personal and painful story. You know, you really should write more on your blog. You're a damned good writer with stories to tell and a great attitude toward life.
      Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very Well Said Sir..... That's why I "sit a minute" and visit on clinic days!

    1. Roger, I never thought of that. It might be good for me to "visit" after my treatment, too. I have no where pressing to be, anyway. Thanks for the comment and the idea.

  3. That saddens me because that is a time when people need their loved ones most of all. Having worked as a hospice care volunteer, though, I saw first hand patients being "tossed aside" by family members who couldn't handle it ... like cancer or AIDS or anything else is easy to handle.

    1. Bob, another thing people forget is that once people are ill, all human contact comes to a halt. No more hugs or kisses, and very little touching, in general. As you say, just when the person needs it most. Thanks for the visit.

    2. One of my greatest joys, followed by great sadness, was sitting by my mother's side, holding her hand as she was dying.
      I wouldn't trade that moment for anything and would hope that someone is there to hold my hand when it's my time..

    3. May you get your wish. I have no such illusion.


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