After leaving the room, Mariano and I took the elevator to the ground floor and headed outside. But I don’t remember getting there, or seeing other people along the way. You can snap your fingers and appear somewhere else, but you wouldn’t know how you got from one place to another. It was almost magical.
We sat on the bench in the sun on the hospital’s pathway to the road where our car was parked. The landscaping around the hospital had grand trees and pretty flowers. Scattered benches, some shaded by the trees, were mostly filled with people trying to enjoy the last warm days we would have for many months. “It’s nice the hospital staff gets to sit outside here. It takes them away from all that negativity inside.” Some employees tilted their heads to face the sun so they could tan. For a few minutes, we also paid attention to all the people walking in and out of the hospital, passing us. There were sad expressions, indifferent ones, and even jovial. Were they wondering about us?
Mariano told me that we were shocked that the surgeon would make really long cuts to my torso in order to remove the cancer and my stomach. I don’t remember that conversation, but I had obviously reacted to it. I’m so grateful Mariano was at that meeting to properly receive the important information.
We tried to soak it all in – the cancer, the operation, the risks, the change. I was unemotional about the details Mariano shared with me, and found I wasn’t absorbing much of it.
Mariano was calm. He’s not one to share deep emotion, even with me. But you know his pensive mood when he begins asking questions aloud, like “What could have brought this on?”
The sun was shining brightly still. It is said that rain brings luck – on a wedding day anyway. In my case, the constant shining sun that day could have been a sign of success to come. Sure, I say that now! In that moment, I was not confident about the outcome.
I’m always fascinated while observing people. It makes me realize that we’re not the same, yet exactly the same. Inside our private lives we are ourselves, on the outside, we’re strange to one another. We all have our own manner in dealing with crises. I realized I’m not infallible – just like there are people who would commit suicide in times of despair or kill to get what they want. Have I discovered my vulnerability? How will I deal with this trauma? There are so many unknowns still, and I wasn’t processing the information emotionally. Am I strong enough to support what lies ahead?
On the weekend, two people I knew, one fifty-two and one sixty, passed from cancer. I wish them peace and their families great healing. Hopefully, you haven’t known many you have suffered or died from this awful illness.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s estimates for 2015, over 200 people would die from cancer every day, and more than 500 will be diagnosed each day. Since my diagnosis in 2004, I have known and lost too many already. Please offer your support – even a shoulder to your neighbour during their time of suffering.