“I’ll have them set an appointment up for the injection. Don’t worry, it’s tolerated very well.” The words came out of the mouth of the handsome young doctor with the confidence achieved in the apex of his career. Knowledge gained from enough years, but not too many to diminish his energy or arrogance.
His words echoed through my head as I walked into the infusion center. My body remembered this place and the dormant anxiety awoke. The nurses and administrators guided me with excessive kindness and solicitation to sit in the wide, comfortable reclining chair surrounded by hospital equipment.
No, I thought. I wanted to remind them that I’m not still a patient. It’s been years since my treatment for cancer, nearly seven to be exact. I don’t belong here anymore.
But the information sheet they gave me was labeled: Chemotherapy. It was an injection to help build back the bone density the prior treatment had stripped away. Just a shot. Labeled with the dreaded word that had upended my life. Chemotherapy.
The shot that had been sold to me as “easily tolerated” knocked me out for three days. Like chemo. My children, now teenagers, dealt with their own memories as they visited my bed in the evenings where I had hidden to escape. The fatigue they could see clearly on my face echoed a full year of their childhoods where the status of my health was unstable. Now they ask more questions, want more details, seek to understand and therefore grab hold of the process that in their more tender ages had seemed haphazard and elusive.
Now, as then, I speak to their level, and we ultimately agree that the cost of treatment is worth the benefit. Four days pass and I’m back on my feet, with bones that will become stronger and with the intention of carrying me more easily into my twilight years. Yes, the treatment is worth it, and yes, there is always a cost.