I had to get up earlier than usual so that I could travel the distance and arrive early for my appointment at the oncologist’s waiting rooms.
The invader had returned. And so I had to go through the process of assessment, markings, being escorted to the other building where registration, x-rays and scans were done for more markings and measurements. All done professionally and regimentally with precision and courtesy. There were other patients waiting their turn, and so I had to wait my turn too. But the waiting for me was not an inconvenience. I love to sit and observe the passing parade, whether it be in traffic, or in the waiting rooms of life.
I remember being in this place before, when I had to come in for the original scanning process at the beginning of my cancer challenge. Strangely the whole building, the registration, the waiting-foyer all seemed much smaller than I remembered.
That very long corridor which I sat in waiting for the radiographer to call my name, was not so long now.
It still had the beautiful seascape paintings on the wall, but somehow it was not so daunting. I wondered why.
Is it that memory shrinks the environment. Or is it that when one is fearful of the unknown that everything seems bigger and a little overwhelming?
It is like when you return to your childhood home, or school, that everything now seems much smaller. An interesting phenomena.
There were three others waiting for their treatment, and so I had a chunk of time to pass.
I read a magazine. And then scrutinised the paintings, thinking how I could perhaps re create them when I started my drawing again. And then I thought to use the time to write. I had brought my notebook with me. All I saw was the blank wall, literally and figuratively, nothing creative would come to mind.
But what I did see was the cloud of doom hovering over the other patients’ heads. There was a sense of gloom, and a sense of duty in the corridor as the clinic sisters hurried along with their work. But even they seemed to have the gloom cloud over them.
Eventually all the necessary scanning preparation work was done, and I had to return to the oncologist’s rooms again.
Now more waiting. But here was a large TV screen, and South Africa was playing India in the Cricket World Cup. I watched for a while, but lost interest, so decided to inconspicuously observe the other cancer patients instead. And though the waiting room was light and colourful with flowers in vases and the TV screen there was an air of travail in the room too. It was as if the people’s problems were very present in the room with them. There was a certain amount of gloom in the room. And understandably so, cancer is a serious problem, an almost insurmountable problem, with its own sense of burden and invisible gloom. In some there was a resignation to the suffering of the disease. In others there seem to be a bearable tolerance of the inevitable. We were all wrestling in our own way with the fate that had befallen us.
There was a certain gloom, but there was hope too. Treatment of whatever kind meant there was help, and the people in the medical and healing professions, who have great expertise, also have important caring attitudes that carry the cancer patients through in times of illness and desperation. Kindness is a good companion in the healing process.
I came away with further appointments in hand, for ongoing treatment. But somewhere in the waiting rooms, I had resolved not to pick up on the gloom, but to rather look on the soaring side of hope, and choose joy when gloom wants to press in to order the mood of the moment.
But those who wait on the Lord,
Shall renew their strength,
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.