Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not Everyone Grew Up at My House

It is embarrassing to admit, but I was a young adult before I fully understood that my point of view was not a fairly universal view. Obviously, I accepted that people might differ on political issues or social issues or even on what to have for dinner, but there were certain perspectives that just seemed obvious "givens" to me. Then I took the Myers/Briggs personality assessment, and my eyes were opened somewhat. Today, I had another experience with my perspective not being the only one.

This morning's radiation session was a few minutes delayed, so I had some time to chat with the other "ladies in waiting." One nice older woman from N. Wilkesboro (a Granny Clampitt type) and I were waiting and had been chatting, when another woman I had seen on occasion came in. This woman seemed nervous as a cat, even though I knew this was about her second week of treatments. I had taken note of her on her first day, because she seemed somewhat "undone" - had failed to check in properly, didn't want to undress as she was directed, couldn't seem to get the lock to work on the clothes locker, etc. Anyway, this morning her eyes kept darting this way and that, and she latched onto our conversation about chemo, asking numerous shaky questions about side effects, etc. Everything seemed to make her more and more uneasy.

This unhappy lady was called for her radiation session, leaving me with Granny Clampitt, who filled me in on what this nervous woman had told her yesterday: that she might just quit her treatment...that she was so frightened by it. This attitude I find simply amazing and incomprehensible. How could a few minutes in a radiation lab be more frightening than letting cancer have its way with your body? And radiation is just NOT scary, although the technicians tell me that some people feel claustrophobic lying under the machine. That seems strange to me, since the apparatus merely hangs over ones body; you are not enclosed in it.

This experience reminds me of a story about a woman from my hometown who knew she had something wrong in her breast. The description of her overt symptoms are too graphic and unpleasant for me to write here, but the bottom line is that she knew she had cancer, but did not go to the doctor for months and months, and by then the cancer was too advanced to do anything about it. I believe that she was just so afraid of having the cancer confirmed by a physician, that she preferred to pretend it didn't exist. Again, astounding!

Even if Granny Clampitt grew up in N. Wilkesboro, NC and I grew up in Winnsboro, SC, we seem to have "grown up in the same house," because she and I agreed that we feel lucky to be able to come to treatment every morning at a good hospital, with knowledgeable doctors and caring personnel who want to help us get well.

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