Cancer Lesson #33: There’s a Reason You’re Called a Patient.

Cancer Lesson #33: There’s a good reason you’re called a patient.

Cancer, like all serious illnesses, involves a lot of waiting. Every step forward is predicated on the previous step, which means you don’t know what step two will be until step one is complete. Between steps, all you can do is wait. Doctors can sometimes give an educated guess about what might be next, but even they can’t be sure. The only way to know what comes next is to wait to see what comes next.

I found it ironic that an experience which emphasizes the brevity of life should require that so much of it be used up in waiting. It’s like an enforced education in patience.

I’m not good at waiting. In fact, I’m sure my chart probably reads, “Im-patient Number — is a fifty-two year old female whose malignant neoplasm was removed on 27 April 2011….”

But, as with the sleeping arrangements mentioned in the last lesson, I didn’t have a choice. It didn’t matter that my mind thought I should be on to the next step; every time I skipped a pain pill, or tried to stretch my arm or sleep on my right side, or even walk faster than the average tortoise, my body shouted back – and I do mean shouted – that I wasn’t yet recovered.

I needed to get better at being sick, to learn to be patient with my body as it healed. And I reminded myself that, for some people, these types of limitations aren’t temporary.

That thought helped put things into perspective.

Still, when I blogged about it at the time, I wrote, “Learning to be patient is great, but I wish I could learn just a little faster. Like yesterday.”

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