Tina and I have been doing ALL the doctors appointments together. In many cases this means sitting with waiting women and walking past others. I swear there are times I feel like an alien in a strange land. “Who let the MAN, into the ‘Breast Center’”
I have noted that sometimes the man comes to the appointment, then there is a hug and heee’s outta there!!…. off to get a coffee and copy of Sports Illustrated to clear any of the trace estrogen.
But me.. I stay. I need data.. I do not do well in an information vacuum.
They are polite, but its like on Sesame Street “Which one of these does not belong” … you know the tune. I see it in their eyes…
For one biopsy the nurse “snuck” me in the back way so I would not run into women changing etc. (Good idea)
At the Virgina Mason Breast Center I hope most of these women are just there to get normal diagnostics that will lead to a call saying “Your tests came back negative, see you next year.” Me, I am with my wife because we are defining the future after a diagnosis of cancer There is soo much to learn and as we found between Virgina Mason and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, different ideas of what makes a good outcome. And now at SCCA.. I am pretty sure most of us men and women waiting are sharing some part of a common journey.
I take in data and I process it, this is how I maintain sanity when life tries to take my choices.. I want… no need to know everything about Tina’s diagnosis and the plans. Not to counter the doctors but to understand and sometimes ask questions for me, for her and a couple of times to double-check the thinking. Medicine is a lot about stats being applied to individuals the more data points you have the better you can fit that stats. We are all different.. but there is collected data that tells us what treatments work best and offer the best risk to reward ratio.
- What kind of tissue has cancer?
- How big?
- How aggressive?
- Are there nodes that are now involved?
This guides the milestones in the treatment, which surgery, what can be saved, what has to go. How much chemo.. radiation etc.
So to understand and remain sane… I walk the halls of SCCA Women’s Center with Tina.. And I stay in the room, often to the surprise of the nurses and doctors and always at Tina’s choice. I feel no need to dash off for a coffee and a quick scan of Popular Mechanics. It’s clear that from the repeated reminders that “It’s Ok to go. most men don’t want to be here” that.. I don’t fit that mold.. good.. I like not fitting that mold.
For me to be a partner and a lover to my woman I need to be curious about what makes her tick and comfortable with her processes. I guess all those years buying pads and tampons was training me for this. I never understood why some men won’t do this, unless they want to make a pass at the check-out girl. Its part of her life, you should help. Be a man and do it right.. Don’t just grab a box and hope.. stand there and make sure you get the ones she asked for just like you were picking out a new piece of golf gear or a tool… That is not always easy.. I have gotten that look in the super market too.. “Why is he staring at the tampons?” Because I am a real man
This week again, I knew I made the right choice. I don’t think either of us was ready for the amount of pain a cramp triggered from a biopsy of the uterus could create.. so I was glad I was there to rub her stomach and hold her hand.
Frankly, this is a big giant, often scary journey and Frodo needs her Samwise… or is it the other way around.