Today I’m sitting in the chemo line. It’s amazing how different the faces are here than in the radiation line.
In the radiation line people pretty much know the percentage of their cancer that is gone, and they are giving it one last shot. Everyone has little hair-doos growing back, and we very rarely throw up. We can chat and discuss our breast scars. We can practice stretching our arms, and discuss lymphedema management. People ring the bell and bring cookies on their last day. It’s always someone’s last day.
In the radiation line our name gets called, and we walk into a little machine where we lay silently and don’t move while a machine buzzes for just a second. The burning grows with each treatment, but you also get to tick off another day until ringing the bell and cookies.
In the chemo line the faces are haunted. It’s the really super-skinny people in wheelchairs that are the most invisible. No one talks much, and any joking is done with hung heads. Many are wearing face masks and don’t look you in the eye. You don’t want to look them in the eye anyway. There is a look in those eyes that no one wants to see.
When your name gets called you get hooked up to a machine that drips poison into your veins. It has a lot of water in it too and makes you pee. They stick a big needle into your port which was surgically implanted into your jugular vein. When it’s done you can pull your little hat over your bald head and silently return home. It’ll be a day or so until you are really sick. You count the hours between when you are supposed to take which medicine for each side effect.
No matter how conservative or liberal, everyone with cancer wants to know what gave it to them. The doctors are absolutely useless. They will talk about dividing cells, and the cellular environment that lays the bed for uncontrolled grown, and statistics. But the people in line, every single one, will agree that it’s environmental pollutants that got us. No matter how conservative a person is, they will admit it. It was something invisible, everywhere and out of our control that slithered inside our bodies and caused a little monster to start growing of its own accord.
Maybe we’re wrong. But what if we’re right? And either way, why do we keep allowing polution against our own, and our children’s, best interests?
We’ve spent our lives hearing about this chemical and that chemical that is a carcinogen. But then we have cancer and get told that nobody knows and that it’s just some random mix-up. Is there one truth for before you get cancer, and another truth for after you get cancer? Couldn’t we simply clean up our world… just in case?