Circling Back

Today I am back at the radiation oncology office. Three years ago, nearly to the day, I was in this office planning my first cancer treatment. Moving through this same space I can’t stop layering my current experience over the one of new cancer patient me.

I park in the parking lot and remember my relief that it was free, compared to the medical oncologist’s office that is $4 per appointment. By 2018 I’ve spent hundreds on medical parking and include it in my annual budget.

I get to the front desk and fill out the same paperwork I did in 2015. I have to do it again due to the length of time since my last treatment here.

My name is called by a familiar face. We reintroduce ourselves. In the hallway I run into a man with the same original diagnosis who I got chemo with my first time around. He is here getting a 6 month follow up scan, which means he is at least 2 years cancer-free. I have never been in remission that long.

I sit in a room. When I started I was so overwhelmed by all the information. This time I’m here with a CD of my previous scan, cancer notebook #2 (the first one is all filled up) and I log onto one of my medical portals to print out the reports from the 4 scans from the previous 6 months.

I meet the doctor. It is a different one, but like the last one he is smart and honest and a good listener. In 2015 we spoke about how we hoped the cancer would be out of my life forever within 4 months. Now we talk about how most diseases are chronic, in all of medicine, and that they work to increase the quality and length of life of the patients. It is as comforting as the original discussion about my curability.

I do my planning scan and get my markings so they can line me up correctly for each session. Just like last time, I strangely love the markings. I like how they make my body look and feel comforted when I touch the waterproof stickers. We reserve my time slot, this time without work to plan around.

I leave and wave goodbye to everyone on the way. I am looking forward to coming back here – to see this team and to get the radiation that will lessen my pain.

Some things are the same.

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