Everytime I walk through the doors of the U of M Cancer Center, I have an overwhelming feeling that I don't deserve this.
I look around me, everyone is at least 20-30 years older than me.
I get stares from them. They look at my bald head. In my mind, I'm thinking, "Yeah, I can't believe it either."
I feel like I'm in a dream. I feel like I shouldn't be there. I feel like I should be anywhere but there. Anywhere I want.
I feel a sense of belonging but like an outsider at the same time.
I know I can relate to the fighters around me, but can I?
The receptionists and nurses treat me like a child. I hate it.
I feel so aged, mentally. I look at people two or three times my age, and I know that they have never had to go through some of the things that I have.
Things that have changed me.
Why have I become desensitized to needles? To pain? To extremely invasive procedures? To privacy?
Who deserves that?
The other day, after my PICC was placed, I was waiting in the recovery area. My nurse walked in, and he just stared at me for a second.
I felt so uncomfortable.
He took a deep breath and sighed, still looking at me. He looked extremely sad.
I could feel it. I knew what he was thinking.
I could almost hear it. I've heard it so many times.
"To see someone so young go through this."
I don't like it when other people feel sorry for me. It makes me feel like I'm dying.
I didn't know what else to do but smile. He replied, "Wow, you have such a beautiful smile."
I never know anymore what the "real" compliments are versus pity remarks.
Moments later I heard a nurse walk into the closed off curtain room next to me.
I heard her say, "From the tears I see, I'm guessing you've heard the news."
I heard an old woman crying. She was speechless. She couldn't get any words out.
The nurse uttered, "I'm sorry."
I hate that. "I'm sorry." Thanks?
She has no idea what that woman is feeling right now. If not forgotten by the end of the day, the nurse will go about her life, and sooner than later, forget all about her. She won't think about how devasting this is for her.
But I feel it. I remember her. I am thinking about her.
"I'll let you make some phone calls."
I was speechless. I was on the verge of tears. It brought me back.
I wanted to go next door and hug her. I wanted to tell her all of the things I wish I had heard when I found out.
I just sat in silence.