Saturday, November 11, 2017

I have a friend with breast cancer.  Actually I had a patient with breast cancer who became my friend with breast cancer.  She was first diagnosed twelve years ago.  The cancer has now spread.  It's in her bones, her brain and other places I can't remember.  Yesterday she was in for a CT scan which involves drinking two litres of water with contrast.  Just as she was about to go in for her scan she vomited everywhere.  I go back to the waiting room to find her vomiting in a garbage can, vomit all down the front of her;  she's soaked.  She said she was fine and would have the scan done soaking wet but her husband and I vetoed that.

Her husband got her a clean gown, pants and housecoat and I took her into the bathroom to get cleaned up.  I washed her and dried her and helped her put her arms in the gown.  She sat on the toilet while I took off her shoes and changed her pants.  As I was kneeling in front of her, putting her shoes back on her I asked her if she was always so easy going and she said yeah, pretty much. 

As I was laying in bed this morning I realized the difference between her and I, and probably why I love her so much, is that she is not suffering, despite all that is going on in her body.  She can't change what is happening to her but she is not a fly trapped in a spider web, struggling to escape.  She just accepts what happens.  She gets up and lives her life.  It's much slower now than even six years ago when I first met her but she sews, she visits friends, she enjoys her life.  And most importantly to me, she isn't suffering.  I am in awe and I am thankful she is my life.

And my suffering, my suffering is in my head which for me makes it harder because the part of me that I need to use to reduce my suffering is also the part of me that causes so much of my suffering.  Today is a better day.  I'm watching the sun rise as I write this.  A new day brings hope and a chance to do better.

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