I’d like to take a step back before going forward with this blog. Like I said previously, The Center for Cancer introduced me to so many wonderful people. It was there that I truly appreciated what this dreadful illness can do to people. I unfortunately witnessed many people with various forms of cancer and I saw what the cancer would do to them not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. I also witnessed how so many of the patients maintained such a great attitude and spirit to fight. It was quite inspiring, especially when you realize that there was always someone there who had it a whole lot worse than you. It may have been a different type of cancer. It may have been more advanced. They could have been much older or younger than you. They may not have been privy to such a strong support group that you were fortunate to have. There are many factors that come into play and fortunately I felt that I had an advantage in all of them.
During my six months of treatment at The Center there were a few things that will be etched in my mind forever. I never really got close to any of the other patients. It was more of a cordial thing where we would just chat or make small talk. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think I could become friends with another patient there for fear of losing them to this dreadful illness. Your own vulnerability is etched in your mind so it’s not real easy to take on any more unpleasant events. I will always remember the wonderful nurses and of course, Dr. Siegel. There were also many phlebotomists and office workers who were always so kind and pleasant. Their smiles and hellos were always so welcome. Then there was Brianna. Brianna is Mary’s daughter, who also happens to work at The Center. Each and every visit for a treatment, it was very likely that Brianna would come walking down the hall and in her course of doing business stop by and give me a hug and kiss and spend a few minutes chatting. Brianna is the type of person who literally lights up a room with her smile and demeanor. She is just a pleasant and respectful young lady that I have known for years but saw in quite a different light at The Center. I always looked forward to seeing her….and her mom!!
There was one particular nurse that I really struck a relationship with. Her name was Maureen McGarvey and words cannot describe how much she meant to me during my treatments and to this day. I can’t recall exactly when, but it seems to me there was a connection with Maureen from day one. She literally became “my nurse” and when I was receiving treatments it was Maureen who would be my nurse for the day. If for some chance she wasn’t, she still made it point to periodically stop over and spend some time with me.
To me, Maureen had a gift. She just always seemed to know what to say or do. It may have been just a simple hand on the shoulder. A touching or slap on the knee. It may have been a joke. It could just be a smile or a laugh. It was just always something. Maureen was from South Philly so we always talked about the Iggles (Philadelphia Eagles), Phillies or Italian food. We would talk about the Italian Market, Tony Luke’s roast pork sandwiches, Geno’s cheese steak sandwiches, where to buy the best pasta and rolls or which bakery in South Philly was the best (I favor Termini’s). We also talked a lot about making “gravy”. That’s spaghetti sauce for you non-Italians! Maureen just made me feel good and she made me feel comfortable. She would tease Elena but the best thing she always did was stick up for me!! Maureen would always take my side when we discussed non medical things with the nurses, Mary and Elena. She was fun and a great nurse. She just had a way about her.
Next time I would like to skip over 6 months of my life and discuss something I feel is very important……my lifestyle change. In particular, my new diet.