Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Good News Keeps On Rolling

Enter the front doors of Princess Margaret Hospital, Canada's largest cancer treatment centre and the fifth highest ranking cancer facility in the world, and the first thing you see is a booth selling Tim Horton's coffee (and bagels and donuts).

Well, that's not strictly true, the first thing you actually see is a bank of hand sanitizers. But immediately after that, it is Tims and the long line up that characterizes every Tims outlet.

Go through the next bank of doors, holding tightly to the pleasing warmth of your Tim Horton's coffee, and you are in a long corridor streaming with patients and doctors and nurses.

Follow that to the end and turn left and you are into the blood clinic. Hand over your health card and your PMH patient card to the woman at the desk and she assigns you a number (47) which you can check against the electronic sign (34) to see how close you are to being called for your blood test.

You then look for a seat in the waiting room, sip your Tims, open your kindle and hope Steven King starts pulling monsters out of his hat, because you are getting very tired of the cardboard characters in his new novel, the Dome. The Kindle won't tell you what page you're on but does tell you what percentage of the 1000 plus pages you have read (47%)

And you check your call number (47) and the percentage number (47) and pause to contemplate the odds of that happening. And at just that moment, your number gets called and in you go for your blood test. The blood extraction is done at one of 20 chairs and you are assigned chair 7 (and start to wonder if you are the 4th person today to sit in that chair). Two vials of blood are taken and will be analyzed within the hour.

In the meantime, you can go for breakfast before seeing the Oncologist to discuss the results of the test.

Two hours later you are actually in the treatment room actually talking to the oncologist.

"Well," she says, "you know how pleased we were with your last CT scan and your blood work has been excellent."

You smile to encourage the further flow of positive words.

"You have two more chemo treatments planned and another CT scan in seven weeks time. If they all go well and the scan shows no change or even some healing, I think we will take a break in your treatment. Give you a few months off and not plan any further chemo until further scans show signs of the disease advancing again."

You smile some more.

She becomes serious, "You do know it's "until" not "unless". The disease will keep progressing, but we seem to have made good progress in knocking it back and giving you more time and a better quality of life."

Well, you guess she did have to go and say that. Couldn't have left it at just the good news part. Still, it is good news. You realize you should get half of February and all of March and April off chemo. And maybe a few months after than as well.

Maybe 47 is your lucky number.

And you go home to tell Linda the good news.

And maybe find a way to stop thinking and writing in the second person singular.