Every person has a story. So, too, does each chair. (re-post of “I think so too”)

October 2nd, 2014 § 23 comments

IMG_7739There is comfort in routine.

Some people are superstitious. Sometimes they want the same chemo nurse, the same appointment time, the same chair. “If it is working don’t mess with it” applies to many things about treating cancer.

I am always thinking about continuity and the stories that objects tell. I’ve written twice about the tape measure my plastic surgeon used to measure me before surgery. I’ll post those pieces again this month.

Whenever I sit in a chair in a doctor’s office I think about all of the people who have sat in that chair before I have.

Each person has a story. So, too, does each chair. That chair is the starting point for this piece from 2011.

………………………….

“I think so too”

That chair you’re sitting in?
I’ve sat in it too.
In waiting rooms. Chemo rooms. Prep rooms. For tests. Surgeries. Procedures. Radiation. Inpatient. Outpatient. Emergency visits. Routine visits. Urgent visits. To see generalists. Specialists. Surgeons. Alone. With friends. With family members. As a new patient. Established patient. Good news. Bad news. I’ve left with new scars. Prescriptions. Appointments. Words of wisdom. Theories. Guesses. Opinions. Statistics. Charts. Plans. Tests. Words of assurance. More bloodwork. Nothing new. Nothing gained. Nothing but a bill.

That feeling you’re having?
I’ve had it too.
Shock. Disbelief. Denial. Grief. Anger. Frustration. Numbness. Sadness. Resignation. Confusion. Consternation. Curiosity. Determination. Dread. Anxiety. Guilt. Regret. Loss. Pain. Emptiness. Embarrassment. Shame. Loneliness.

That day you’re dreading?
I’ve dreaded it too.
The first time you speak the words, “I have cancer.” The first time you hear “Mommy has cancer.” Anniversary day. Chemo day. Surgery day. PET scan day. Decision day. Baldness day. The day the options run out.

Those reactions you’re getting?
I’ve had them too.
Stares. Questions. Pity. Blank looks. Insensitivity. Jaw-dropping comments. Tears. Avoidance.

Those side effects you dread?
I’ve dreaded them too.
Nausea. Vomiting. Pain. Broken bones. Weakened heart. Baldness. Hair loss. Everywhere. Unrelenting runny nose. Fatigue. Depression. Hot flashes. Insomnia. Night sweats. Migraines. Loss of appetite. Loss of libido. Loss of breasts. Phantom pain. Infection. Fluid accumulation. Bone pain. Neuropathy. Numbness. Joint pain. Taste changes. Weight gain. Weight loss. Mouth sores. Fevers. Anemia.

That embarrassment you’re feeling?
I’ve felt it too.
Buying a swimsuit. Getting a tight-fitting shirt stuck on my body in the dressing room. Having a child say “You don’t have any eyebrows, do you?” Asking the grocery line folks to “make the bags light, please.” Wearing a scarf. Day after day. Wondering about wearing a wig because it’s windy outside and it might not stay on. Holding on to the bannister for dear life. Passing out in public.

That fear you’re suppressing?
I’ve squelched it too.
Will this kill me? When? How bad is chemo going to be? How am I going to manage 3 kids and get through it? Will my cancer come back and take me away from my life? Will it make the quality of life I have left so bad I won’t want to be here anymore? Is this pain in my back a recurrence? Do I need to call a doctor? What is worse: the disease or the treatment?

That day you’re yearning for?
I’ve celebrated it too.
“Your counts are good” day. “Your x-ray is clear” day. “Now you can go longer between appointments” day. “See you in a year” day. First-sign-of-hair day. First-day-without-covering-your-head day. First taste of food day. First Monday chemo-isn’t-in-the-calendar day. Expanders-out, implants-in day. First walk-without-being-tired day. First game-of-catch-with-the-kids day. First day out for lunch with friends day. First haircut day. “Hey, I went a whole day without thinking about cancer” day. “Someone asked me how I’m doing, I said ‘fine’ and I meant it” day.

That hope you have?

I have it too:
More research. Easier access. Targeted therapy. Effective treatments. Better quality of life. More options. Longer life. Less toxicity. Fewer guesses.

Ultimately, someday, for my children or grandchildren perhaps: a cure.

Don’t you think that would be amazing?
I think so too.

§ 23 Responses to Every person has a story. So, too, does each chair. (re-post of “I think so too”)"

  • Sue says:

    Oh Lisa
    that is the best – you hit every point every feeling
    thank you for writing this piece

  • Kimberly says:

    You are such an incredible writer. This needs to become a book. Thank you for writing.

  • Janice Soll says:

    Substitute grandkids for kids and this is my life. “What is worse: the disease or the treatment?” The constant thought in my head. Thank you for sharing words.

  • Beth says:

    Love it! I thought I was the only one in a dressing room with a shirt stuck on that it took all my powers to get pried off!!

  • Linda says:

    Lisa, all of your postings have such impact but this one in particular and especially this week. Again, I send all good wishes at the “24” anniversary, “36” in a few days for my daughter in that chair, too. The breakthrough research just must come soon, Linda

  • meri says:

    So true, so true! Thank you. xoxo

  • Susan says:

    Lisa, I have been reading your blog for some months but have never responded until now. I was diagnosed last fall with early stage triple negative bc. I am the mom of 2 sons and 1 daughter ages 11-15. I have spent the past year in chemo and multiple surgeries, including double mastectomy. I am home recovering from implant surgery now. I read this post and cried … thank you for giving a voice to all of these emotions that are so hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it … everyone seems to think I should be “ok” now that everything is “over”.

  • Diane says:

    Thank you for this. I was recently diagnosed with high grade serous ovarian cancer – IIIB. I start chemo next week. I cried reading your words because they spoke of fears/thoughts that I’ve had – and wasn’t even aware of yet. Thanks for putting them in print so that I can bring them to the open and not dwell on them internally. The other I would add to the list is: “Will this food grow the cancer cells or help stop them by making them more receptive to chemotherapy?” I find myself afraid of food as I am in the early stages of revamping my diet. Thank you…

  • Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for these words. You tell it like it is.

  • Carla says:

    You are really a wonderful person…

  • Sarah Buttenwieser says:

    I can only imagine how many of us take solace from these words and reassurances and how many will. You keep giving gifts–and these gifts matter so. Love, sarah

  • Matty Singer says:

    my eyes watered, re-living every moment, every word. You say it like it is… and it helps a little, or a lot, knowing that others understand this journey we didn’t sign up for. Be well!

  • Susan says:

    I just happened to discover your website and blog, and have been sitting here now for over an hour reading your words. A friend, who has been a breast cancer fund-raiser extraordinaire for years, who lost a sister-in-law to the disease, was diagnosed this summer. She has a husband and two young kids. In July she had a double mastectomy, and a 2 weeks ago, she had reconstructive surgery. She’s only in her 40’s.

    They are coming over Saturday for a pumpkin party with the kids and a few friends. This morning I emailed everyone a picture of the dozen pumpkins I picked up at the farm stand, which will be for the kids to carve. My friend emailed back: “Looking forward to it! I am bringing my own “pumpkins” (implants).”

    She is so indescribably dear, so funny, so beautiful. I wonder if she knows your blog.

  • Pam says:

    Absolutely outstanding writing! What an in-depth insight to the very basics we take for granted…sitting in a chair, getting a haircut, going out to lunch. Every time I read your posts I gain a new perspective, a new outlook, a new emotion. Wishing you more good days than not….more smiles than tears….more hope than fears. Xoxo

  • […] Every person has a story. So, too, does each chair. […]

  • Your post was so well-written, honest from the heart and rang so true to me (and I think to my readers) that I knew I had to reblog it. I keep you in my prayers as I’m a breast cancer survivor too who went to MSK. Here is the link to my post with much gratitude to you. ♥ http://misifusa.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/pink-post-gratitude-to-lisa-boncheck-adams/

  • John M says:

    All I can say is Thank You.

  • Sharon Martinelli says:

    Dear Lisa, I read all of your posts but rarely comment. This one really touched every cell in my body and memory. I am sending it on to a couple of friends – one who went through it last year and is doing well and one who just got diagnosed and who lost her mother to the ravages of the disease. Thank you for holding so much courage and sharing your journey while engaging in the process of treatments. Sending you much love.

  • Sarah says:

    I love your writing. This post just nails it. When I was diagnosed, I was welcomed into “the club that no one really wants to join.” What was that supposed to mean, I thought. This post answers that question. The community of people who “get it.”
    I have never met you, and became aware of your blog when you were in the news last December, shortly after my diagnosis. I think of you often. You are providing such a public service with your blog and posts.

  • April says:

    My mom never really got into the internet, I wish she would’ve and I wish she could read your words and know someone else knew. She had breast to bone, to liver, to bone, to brain. You have my thoughts, prayers, and gratitude. I’m glad there is someone eloquently expressing the darkness and the little patches of light of cancer. I almost wrote ‘this disease’. Funny, a whole blog about cancer and I’m gonna shy away from the word.
    I’ll try not to do that anymore.

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