Watching my wife go through cancer treatment is a little like finding yourself in a movie theater showing a film that you already know you don’t like. You can’t walk out in the middle of it, nor do you know how it’s going to end. You are left to watch scenes that don’t make sense and leave you wondering how this fits into the entire plot.
8am Monday morning found us in the treatment room of the Oncology Center, a spacious area with east facing windows overlooking a small wood with a swift creek from all the overnight rain. The clinic part was obvious from all the IV units next to the reclining chairs, of which Karen, being the first patient of the day, got her pick of the most comfortable. But medicine has taken the emotional element into consideration more now by providing these small comforts while diminishing the sterile environment that once was all we knew when going to see the doctor.
It’s been four weeks of non-stop motion from diagnosis, to surgery, to recovery, to pathology report, to shock, to consultation and finally, to treatment. Through it all, my wife has appeared normal. No signs, no symptoms, bounced back from surgery very quickly. It would be different had she been ill for three months, or suffered nauseous side effects or some visible sign of the disease. But no, nothing. All I have is information and data. But that will soon change and how ironic that it will be due to the cure rather than the disease.
As she was hooked up to the IV machine that would dispense the drugs, all of which look like nothing more than tap water in a bag, I found I had to develop a metaphor to help me cope with all I was observing. I couldn’t just think of this clear liquid called Taxol as just one more medication. I had to imagine it as stealth warfare.
I need a place to focus my energy as well as my prayer. The clear cell carcinoma that are present in her body are now my enemy, and Taxol are the Special Forces sent in to take back the ground that has been invaded. I get this idea from her oncologist, who seems to take cancer very, very personally. I will follow his aggressive lead, who doesn’t want the bad guys to win another one.
Neither do I.