Beating the Odds

My visits to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance always give me a wake-up call for living.  Step inside and you’ll notice that life is no longer the same for many.

Visible signs like hair loss and chemo ports in chests distinguish some. Others bear weariness from months of treatment.

I take my seat next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and gaze out at Seattle’s Lake Union. I’ve been here enough to have seen every imaginable weather outside those amazing windows, but the view never fails to impress me. And I’m thankful for the medical care I’ve had.

When I met with my oncologist a few years back, she gave me three options. The first was a preemptive mastectomy. The second was a five-year plan of preventative cancer treatment. Or #3 was to radically change myself.

I chose option three. I now have a dietician, an exercise specialist, and three doctors who x-ray and test me frequently enough that I have time to revisit Option 1 or 2 if need be.

So far, I am a model patient. And I, by the grace of God, hope to remain so.

In the cluster of chairs next to me in the waiting room, I observe an elderly couple. The woman’s husband is hard of hearing and she lovingly repeats everything she says.

She’s thin, painfully so—making even these soft chairs uncomfortable. This concerns her husband and he shuffles off to find a pillow.

Standing nearby is a cute young woman with a cart full of healthy snacks. She comes over and offers us crackers and juice.  Her blue lab coat says, “volunteer”. So I ask what brings her to volunteer in a cancer treatment center.

She’s a UW biomedical student researching cancer treatments.  I confess, I thought she'd make a terrific wife for my son. She was a delight. So kind, thoughtful, smart and determined.

Thinking of marriage, I observe the elderly couple—loving one another, in sickness as they had in health. I think of my own marriage and wonder if I will be able to celebrate fifty years with my loving husband.

I'm thankful for this young student-volunteer researching to find cancer’s cure...helping someone like me reach that same milestone as the couple across from me.

Life doesn’t come with guarantees, but it does give us choices. And I’m choosing to do all I can to see life as the gift it really is.

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