“You have to be strong,” the woman in the waiting room at the oncology radiology facility said. “My husband has lymphoma everywhere in its final stages and we are cheerful and optimistic. It’s what you have to do to be with cancer.” Her husband will probably die. He is completely hunched over by what I suppose is osteoporosis in addition to the lymphoma his lovely wife told me has taken over his entire body.

That first day we went for Steve’s radiation treatment, I noticed a bell on the counter with a ribbon tied to it. On the ribbon it said I made it the whole way! I was so new to this idea of my youngish husband having to go through radiation that I didn’t quite get what that was. Then, when Steve was in treatment, someone walked out, picked up the bell and rang it. Everyone in the waiting room applauded and some jumped up to hug the person who had just completed the grueling months long, daily treatment of radiation. I suddenly got it and of course, was one of the jump-up huggers. But I was also in tears.

A couple weeks ago was Steve’s last radiation treatment for a mild recurrence of prostate cancer. MILD? Can you really even say that if its cancer? You really can’t. It’s cancer. In his case even though his numbers are low and very encouraging, you get only one shot at radiation. One. You can’t do it again because radiation causes cancer. What? We are trying to solve cancer with a cancer-causing agent? Yep. OMG.

On Steve’s last day I was in the waiting room, waiting. My husband is a very subtle and humble person. He is not a person who has a need to bring attention to himself so I wasn’t expecting him to ring a little funny bell. I just assumed he would want to get out of there and put it all behind him while we wait and wait for results of radiation.   He walked out, made eye contact with me, picked up that bell and rang it loudly with a huge smile on his face. I burst into quiet tears; I try not to be a spectacle either. People applauded, jumped up to hug him and it was a demonstration of how beautiful people can be when we realize we are all in the same damn boat. Cancer levels the playing field.



16 thoughts on “Scary

  1. Working with Amgen, I get glimpses of some of the stuff that is happening at the forefront of cancer research, and it’s pretty exciting and neat. I think we will one day look back at treating cancer with chemicals and radiation the way we now think of people using leeches and mercury in the old days.


  2. Chai Fu

    Thank you for the inside story. I keep in touch with Steve about his 39 radiation treatments. The surprising move (about the bell) that Steve did was a small reflection what Steve had to go through. This is a wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laura

    Andy that was absolutely beautiful. Soulful, real, poignant, and deeply uniting.
    We are ALL in this together. Every single one of us on the planet. If someone has the grace of being content now, sadly there time will come, it’s inevitable. It seems to be the nature of being human. It seems to be the reason we’re here doing the earth walk – to feel for others, to support others, to love more than we can possibly imagine loving no matter what the risk. And ring the bell not only for ourselves and our loved ones but for everyone who had the courage to take on the project of life.
    Love and ceaseless praying for you and Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Laura. I wholeheartedly agree that the reason we are here is to help each other. I have a new friend and he asked me why I thought we hit it off so completely and immediately. I said, “It’s because we needed each other.”


  4. tim elsner

    i appreciate your sharing this moment and the overall experience you’re both going through. Actually, those who love you are all going through it and the love/unity makes us stronger.

    Liked by 1 person

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