Thursday, February 19, 2009

Observations in a Hospital waiting room

I am in Houston as I write this. I came with my friend Desiree or Taco as we like to call her for some follow up tests and an infusion at MD Anderson. This is my friend who is fighting cancer again. I have been in and around this kind of situation more than I would want to (and Desiree..I will drive you down ANY DAY you need me to) Today I had some time to observe. I got caught up on some work and opened a book I had been wanting to read for some time and I had several thoughts in my head racing. I sat down and wrote an email to my good friend Brian. He currently works with Team Fight for the Ulman Fund in Maryland and his team is getting ready for a triathlon in May. Here is basically what I wrote:

I am sitting in Houston, TX at MD Anderson with my dear friend Desiree who has relapsed a second time with lymphoma. The first time she fought was two years ago when I met her beautiful face. We were fast friends as we had so much in common. We both try to get the same things out of life and we live for adventure! She has been a close friend, a fellow triathlete and my running buddy. Desiree and I signed up for Ironman AZ this November to celebrate her victory over cancer and her 40th birthday (however she doesn't look a day over 30!!)….she will not be able to race due to the relapse. As well, she has 3 beautiful children. Ages 6,8 and 10…… I am sitting in the waiting room as she goes in to receive a 4 hour infusion. Even though MD Anderson does a lot of things right…being in a hospital for JUST cancer patients will never feel ok to me. It makes it real, it makes me realize just how important it is to eradicate this horrible disease.

The injustice that cancer serves is not fair. And I am angry. I have observed since 9 AM and watched the walks of all those facing treatment, good news, bad news, new protocol…. There is this blank look on people's faces that quite frankly reads nothing because in the world of cancer fighting, you have to be ready for anything and everything. I learned a few things over again...Cancer does not discriminate. Where I sit right now there are young and old, black, white & asian, upper class and lower class. Cancer doesn’t care that the economy is tanking, that fashion week is about to happen, or that we are trying to figure out a new health care system. It doesn't care who is going to win at the Oscars. Cancer doesn’t care if you have 3 children or hopes of having children one day. As active as it is…it has no REAL face. It carries the face of way too many people. There is no sense in who or why it chooses and that makes me angry. Nobody deserves this. I found out today that MD Anderson has to add 600 more beds, my stomach dropped. I mean…they ONLY serve cancer patients, have an entire FLOOR for lymphoma and they need 600 more beds??? Apparently there is a waiting is that so? Cancer doesn't wait..why should patients?

I have been around cancer up close and personal for about 6 years now. Some have I get used to it? No. I don't...and I don't want to...ever.

Desiree...if you read this...I love you, I am proud to call you friend, I will take the trip to MD Anderson whenever you need to go and I will stand in the gap for you when you feel like you can't anymore. You are loved...not just by me...but by so many.

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