Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The People Who Make You

It's been a while. I apologize, but I've been busy living the last few days of precious summer vacation to their fullest.

Amidst runs, bike rides, swims, hurricanes, and earthquakes, I made time to visit some people who are very important to me. My Nani and Pop in Florida, and my medical team. My weekend trip to Florida to visit the grandparents was sandwiched between seeing my medical oncologist and my dermatologist. All three were good visits.

I've encountered many amazing people who I would never have met if I hadn't gotten cancer. Among these are the ones who get paid to inspect, poke, prod, and stick me. If your lucky, these people do more than what their job requires, they get to know you, care, and view you as more than a thick manila folder filled with facts. I've been very, very lucky to meet many of these people. They've become part of my life, some staying longer than others, but all shaping me into who I am now.

When I went to see my oncologist, who I've seen on a daily, weekly, monthly, and now biannual basis, he did his usual exam, and the entire time discussed with me what my plans were for the coming school year. And when he was done feeling for lymph nodes, we continued to talk, about his son, daughter, and vacation. I recently had a parallel conversation with an old friend; the only difference was that we were in a restaurant.

Then there's the dermatologist. I. Love. Him. Aside from the fact that he saved my life, he calls the next day to check in and see how I'm doing if he removes something for testing, he sent me flowers on my first cancerversary, knows my entire family on a first-name basis (and has examined all of us) and perhaps made an extremely generous gesture on my most recent cancerversary. He does way more than look at my skin.

But these people aren't the only individuals I've come across who go beyond what is required; when I developed lymphedema the first time, an physical therapist who was not covered by my insurance gave me free treatment until I was able to see someone who was covered. She gave hundreds of dollars worth of supplies I needed to treat the condition, and didn't bill me for any of it.

Then there was the nutritionist who I went to see when I regained an appetite and thirst upon beginning treatment for my failing thyroid. I didn't know how much to eat since I hadn't been hungry in so long. She saw me twice, and took my credit card information. She told me she'd send the bill. It never came.

Then there was the cancerversary party. I threw a rather large party for my five-year cancerversary this June. I knew I wanted to do this for months, so I priced venues, saved my money, put down a deposit, and invited my twenty closest friends and family...and two doctors who have always done more than their jobs. Unfortunately, the docs weren't able to come, but the rest of us had a great time- appetizers, drinks, dinner, and a very special cancerversary cake later, I went to pay the remaining balance for the party. The manager gave me a blank piece of paper. Then he explained that I owed nothing. Someone, who wanted to remain anonymous, wanted to do this for me. I tried not to cry as I explained that I wanted to know who it was, because I needed to thank them for this. The manager still wouldn't tell me, but I have my suspicions about who the mystery beneficiary was.

There are people who do their jobs, and there are people who go above and beyond. These people inspire me, because they don't just do, they do more, sometimes for nothing. These encounters have given me an appreciation for the kindness of strangers- and strangers who become part of an extended family I never thought I'd have. These people have made me who I am through their kindness and genuine caring. They inspire me, because without them, I would not be who I am...or possibly here at all.

Hope, Love, Run
Marathon Girl

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