No News is No News – At Least No Brain Cancer News

The news I was waiting for last Friday at my Odette Cancer Centre appointment, the news about the "enhancement", the incidental finding in my brain they tripped over during the MRI, the one they sent off, unconcerned, for "a bit more testing", the one that jacked up my anxiety level, repeatedly... There was no news on that.

But, there was other news last Friday. Good news. And so, in other non-brain cancer news:

1) The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) Strikes Down All Three Provisions of the Criminal Code Prostitution Laws.

My Friday appointment was the most relaxed one yet. While I was sitting in the waiting room at the Odette Centre, the SCC wiped out laws that blatantly curtailed the safety of sex workers. I’m sure the judges actually did most of their work before the good news day, but happily, that’s when the story broke.

I was there with my friend Brenda, who successfully distracted me from my ongoing fear about the "enhancement", while writing an Op-Ed piece for the Globe and Mail. Now that’s multi-tasking at its best.

2)  A Stranger Has Been Praying for Me.

On my way back from the check-in window, I stop in front of a lovely, carefully dressed woman in her 70's. (As you might expect, not everyone here is well put together; sweats and what might be pyjama bottoms are not uncommon.) She is smiling at me from her seat. I smile back.

            “I remember you, from another time. You were crying, you were so sad.” My eyes instantly fill with tears. “I’ve been praying for you,” she says.

I search my brain for her face. I can only remember the times I was here sobbing. Was it when they told me my chances of cancer were 50/50? Was it when the oncology gynecologist said it was Lymphoma, but wouldn’t tell me any more? I convince myself I can remember her.

            “Thank you. It’s been really hard, but I’m feeling a lot better.”           

            “You look beautiful.”  I smile. I don’t know how to respond. “The doctors and nurses are very good," she says, "but it’s him who’s looking out for us.” She smiles upward, completely knowing. I nod in agreement. In that moment, her faith is contagious.

I reach out and put my hand on her shoulder. Her son, sitting next to her, is smiling up at me. The older couple beside us are also smiling as they look on. Despite the range of attire, headgear, lack of hair, and anxiety, a lot of smiling goes on here. 

I make my way back to my seat with a full heart.

3) No PICC Line

The appointment itself is cheery and almost delightful (everything’s relative.) They ask how I’m feeling. We talk about the hematology conference in New Orleans. Dr J figures the latest breakthrough announced in cell therapy - where they take your own healthy cells, pump them up with something like steroids, train them to be kick-ass ninja cancer fighters, and send them back in - may be about 25 years out. I can wait.

I tell them the chemo folks have suggested a PICC line – a Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter. It's a form of intravenous access that can be used for a prolonged period of time, and requires a prophylactic combo of Baggies and tape in order to take a shower. Dr J doesn’t see why I’d need it. This is great because Dr. Nikhil Joshi, a doc from Newfoundland battling Lymphoma, kind of freaked me out with his painful, infected PICC line story

So that’s good news.

4)  It's a Go with Next Round of Chemo

 The immediate purpose for this appointment is to check my blood levels, and see whether I can move on to another round of chemo. 

My blood levels are up to snuff.  I’m ready to go again.

5)  Dr J Just Got Engaged.

He’s getting married in May. He looks explosively happy when he tells me. Which makes me happy.

6)  The "Enhancement"

As I said, there's NO news on that.

That’s ok. Friday was already a busy news day.

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