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The 8th Floor


I’m sitting here listening to the couple in the infusion bay across the hall. They’re having a tough day. Something about cell counts etc…my platelets are down too. She is weak and not feeling well. Neither am I, sister. You and me both. What we don’t share though is the loud talker on the cell phone. She’s got a guy who can’t seem to shut that sucker off. Can’t turn the ringer down to a normal decibel, it’s got to be really loud. As if his pants were going to absorb the sound and leave him without a lifeline to the outside world.

Or the pretty girl we met coming in. She was tiny. Maybe 5′ tall and with the largest, most liquid dark eyes. She was pale under her makeup. Wearing a wig. And a hat. She looked nervous and scared. I told her I liked her hat and she touched her hair and said ‘It’s a wig.’ I said I know. But it looked good on her. Forget about the hat right? Then she blurted out that she was nauseous. Just the thought of chemo was making her sick. I felt bad for her. I said the only thing I could say, under the circumstances, which was ‘Try not to think about it. It works for me.’ Usually.

Here. It’s like a world unto itself. I guess its scary.

But this guy..It’s kind of funny how he lets his phone ring really loud and then apologizes to her in a hushed tone and comes to the empty bay next to me and talks. As if a curtain could form a sound proofed barrier and no one, least of all that lady he came with, lying there so exhausted and pale, can hear him. Not that I listen. I don’t. Really, I don’t care what he’s going on about and if he talks loudly its only because he is so nervous and scared.

I’ve seen the loud talkers, the criers, the complainers and the stoic ones, the ones that come with people and the ones that come alone. He’s just scared. That’s how it seems to me. Otherwise he wouldn’t have his phone on, would he? It gave me a pang to see him there with her. Holding her hand while she lies there so quiet with her eyes closed. I smiled at him as I pulled my stupid pole along with my stupid chemo drugs dripping into me. Going to get some water. I can get along alright by myself.

But poor them.

They seem so sad. He was surprised to see me smile, I could tell. He gave me a sad smile back, and she was asleep, or just lying there. Waiting for it to be over so she could go home. But me…

Hmmm…I like coming here. There are things about it I love. The people who work here are funny, smart and kind. The food is great. The view from the 8th floor is spectacular. Sometimes you hear laughter from other rooms, or the front desk. There are stacks of new, yes, new as in the latest issue, magazines. There’s wi-fi. Yeah, it’s not bad at all. I’m getting cured! Yes, I am. Thats how I usually think.

The good things about having cancer are:

I quit smoking for good, once and for all, without a single craving.

I eat healthy and organic (whenever I can)

I lost that extra weight.

I’m very very well rested now-none of that working double shifts, split days off.

I see things differently now. I appreciate little things more. I see the passage of time much much more clearly.

I’m finally drinking 8 glasses of water a day (and more)

I have time. Sometimes.

The thing is, it’s not therapeutic to see people who are so sick. It gives me a funny drooping feeling. I get heartsick. Not just for me. Its hard, I know, sometimes. Frightening. I can’t look at the other people and not wonder. Just like they wonder about me, probably. But a good smile isn’t hard to muster up for me. Not yet anyway.

Don’t think I blame them. God knows I don’t. But sometimes I wish I could just sit in a room with a chair and a nice radio, playing some loud music and get the poison/medicine and read or write or draw. Just shut out everyone else. The sad man. That poor, pale lady. The pretty young girl with her expensive hat and her cheap wig.

Maybe that’s the lesson I’m taking away from here. And I’m putting it to immediate use. I gave the sad man a good, genuine smile. I wanted to just talk about something normal with him. That’s why he won’t shut his phone off. Some normal, everyday talk is what he wants, needs. I wished I could have talked to that girl a little more. Not about this. Just about fashion. She was dressed really nicely. Maybe talk about vacations to someone. Where they went for a vacation. I haven’t been on a vacation for years and years.

You can’t though.

People are fixated on what’s happening right now. I don’t want to be. I heard my surgeon on the radio today. She was being interviewed about ovarian cancer. It was odd to hear her name. I almost didn’t listen. It’s just plain scary. There are many, many forms of cancer and I’ve got a bad one. Yes I did. Its a 50% shot, maybe less. I wish I had shut her off. Thats some news I wish I didn’t know. But I feel lucky. I feel like I can be one of the lucky ones.

I feel like my therapy is overcoming the sadness of the 8th floor. If I can just keep appreciating the things I can enjoy. The laughing, the food, the view, the ferry ride, the eclair once in a while, Mom and Liza coming with me so I don’t have to be alone. So I don’t have to think of them sitting there holding my fucking hand. shit.

Its called chemoTHERAPY….


10 thoughts on “The 8th Floor

  1. You are amazing. I have these thoughts swirling through my mind, like what doesn’t break you makes you..and you’ve got to fake it to make it..but they are completely irrelevant..because you are amazing and so is your attitude xxxxx


  2. What a healthy attitude this post reflects. There is good will and patience and hope and perspective (and that’s just the feelings you have about taking care of yourself). There is enough of each of these to share them with everyone else you encounter. As another person said, you are amazing. I, too, am hoping you are a lucky one.


  3. You’ve probably heard this before, but you’re very brave. Not just for dealing with your sickness in the way that you do, but for being able to write about it so beautifully and with so much detail. As I read your words, I felt like I was with you on the 8th floor. And it made me a little teary.

    You are wonderful. Thank you for writing.


  4. You put it so matter of factly. I am humbled by your strength and motivated by your attitude. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laura. All of us took a piece or two, of lessons from this writing.


  5. Thank you for writing this blog. There is so much that I want to say but I just have no idea how to say it or put it into words (a first for me). I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. My Dad also has cancer and it’s terrible to watch him battle this. Your blog has given me a big insight into what its actually like. Thank you for being so honest and all the best in your fight. xxx


  6. I love reading your blog AND I love you too! You’re more amazing than ever and doing the best under (really) tough circumstances. Glad you’re counts have been ‘ok’ to continue on! I’m thinking about you all the time xo


  7. Pingback: Around the blogsphere | Completely Disappear

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