I have the first appointment of the day for my radiation therapy. They have two machines, so there are two of us that arrive just before 8 AM – me and Gary. Gary is older than I am – maybe in his late fifties or early sixties. But he is a spry looking gentleman. Had I not met him in the radiation waiting room, I would have never suspected he is a cancer patient. He likes to watch the news in the morning and often chats with patients as they arrive. He has always been cheerful and I have often wondered about why Gary was receiving radiation.
Today Gary and I finished up at the same time so we rode the elevator down together and had to wait for our vehicles. Gary was not his usual cheerful self this morning and started telling me about his treatment. He is not only receiving daily radiation, but is also undergoing chemotherapy right now. Gary can’t eat at all because his throat is too raw. I shared with him that I had previously gone through radiation of the neck area and understood his plight. He said he’s tired, he can’t sleep, he can’t eat, and he feels like he has no quality of life right now. He said they gave him a 60-70% chance of getting through this and that it had better work because he wouldn’t do this again. Gary asked me how long it took to get my taste back after treatment. I shared with him that it was a good 2-3 months before food tasted right again. He said that his cancer was Stage 4 which is why they are treating him so aggressively.
Our cars arrived around that time so we waved and headed our separate ways. Gary also goes to work each day after his radiation. Those of us who fight for the early appointments usually have someplace to be.
Talking to Gary definitely gave me an attitude adjustment. I have been complaining about being tired, but at least I can sleep. And I can’t eat the things I would like to eat, but I am able to eat without pain. And most importantly I am fighting the potential of cancer and not actual cancer. Gary is fighting the real fight.
I am grateful for Gary and am sending him my hopes for the strength that he needs to get through this experience. I am also reminded that I need to practice kindness. You can never tell by looking at someone what they are going through at any given moment. Life is hard sometimes, and everyone has a rough patch now and then.
My rough patch is almost over. And for that I am very grateful.