I had a chest/abdomen/pelvis CT-scan today as part of my regular check-up schedule. Good news! The liver tumors that are still visible have become even smaller. I’ve decided to call them “tumorlettes” to highlight their tiny, insignificant nature.
That’s (feminist) cancer humor, people. Tumors are not insignificant, no matter how small they get. But cancer humor is the theme of today’s post, so hang on for some more jokes in questionable taste.
First things, first: check out those CT scan images above. The one on the left was taken today, January 3, 2018. The large, vaguely-yam-looking thing on the left and top of the image is my liver. The middle white thing is my spine and the inflated comma on the right side is my spleen. Compare this to the image of roughly the same view on the right, from September 29, 2017. You (may) notice the two dark blobs on the lower left of the September image. Those are liver tumors. In today’s image on the left you can just barely see those tumors. Still there, but much smaller. As of today, we could only see 3 liver tumors of any size on the scan. Voilà: science works!
My blood tests also look great. All signs are pointing in the right direction, which is a wonderful way to start the year.
Now, on to the fun.
I saw a man at Dana Farber today wearing a sweatshirt that said “I’m one in a million” on the front. On the back, it continued, “My doctor says so.” Hahahahaha! Haha! Ha…shit.
And now for the pièce de résistance, what I really wanted to tell you about, which happened today as Husband and I were leaving the second floor where they collect blood samples, waiting for an elevator up to the breast cancer floor. If I haven’t mentioned this before, DF has about 12 floors (not counting the five underground levels for parking). Floors 4-12 are each devoted to a different cancer or suite of cancer types. I’ve made a habit of hanging out on Floor 9.
I couldn’t help but notice a very large man nearby, also waiting for an up elevator. He was probably 60ish, maybe 6’5″, with a barrel chest and an overall imposing (not mean, just big) demeanor. He was dressed entirely in black: black boots, tight black pants, a black leather jacket opened to expose a low-cut black tank top that showed off his graying chest hair, black fingerless gloves. And black sunglasses. His (black) hair was a sort-of mullet that was slick and elevated on top. This was a hairstyle that required some effort. A black bandana held it in place.
To cut to the chase, the man looked like an old WWF wrestler.
This was a man very much in control of himself…except that the poor guy quickly revealed a fear of riding in an elevator with too many people. Please note: I am not making fun of anyone’s phobias here…just their style and word choices.
By way of background, the elevators in this place often get filled up to the point where you may have to subtly wave a stranger’s hair out of your face as they stand in front of you. There is a lot of polite shuffling that happens in these elevators to accommodate as many people as possible. After all, time is of the essence here. There’s an unspoken rule around DF that no one is more important than anyone else, though some may require more urgent care on any given day.
So Mr. Black, who is standing in the rear of the elevator, like us, but a few people over, says to his elevator compadres, half-jokingly, half-seriously, and at full volume, “we’re all gonna die!”
Just let that sink in for a minute. In an elevator full of cancer patients and their supporters, in a cancer hospital, he proclaimed our impending demise. He was clearly making a joke, but seemed to have no idea how poorly timed and placed that joke was.
After maybe ten seconds of total silence, another elevator rider spoke up. “You don’t say things like that around here, ” said the slight man wearing a yellow patient locator tag and a mask over his face. Mr. Mask happened to be positioned in the packed elevator such that he was directly facing Mr. Black. Mr. Mask said this matter of factly, without malice. This exchange was an orientation to the unspoken rules of Cancerlandia for the (apparently) uninitiated.
At this point, many of us laughed, relieved to break the very awkward silence. “Thank you for saying what we were all thinking,” I said to Mr. Mask.
Mr. Black got off the elevator at the next stop. I wonder if that was his destination or just a reprieve from his elevator anxiety. Regardless, I hope he found his way to wherever he was headed, perhaps via the stairs. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was another extremely large man wearing spandex pants somewhere in the building, waiting to see his friend.