There are a lot of trips to the doctor to get to a cancer diagnosis, there are exponentially more after a cancer diagnosis. A lot seems like an understatement. My first trip to the Breast and GYN cancer center at Woman’s Hospital was by far the worst. I guess the reason for that is the word cancer is building size, pretty huge, and hard to be in denial as to why you are there. It is in your face and you are about to enter.
The first time was for the biopsy. My doctor took me in first thing in the morning after a holiday weekend. We were early, I imagine that everyone is early for something like this. I looked at the building with it’s intense labeling and stopped in my tracks. My husband was patient and kind as he waited. He gently reminded me that we were better off knowing than we ever would be wondering and that early diagnosis is key.
We walked in and there is a greeter at the entrance. She is one of the brightest, kindest, smiliest people you would ever meet. my money is that it is all genuine. She knew we were there for the first time. I imagine there is a recognizable deer in the headlights look accompanied by white knuckled hand holding. She told us the floor and which elevators to take and asked us to stop by when we left. She even offered us each a bottle of water.
We went to the elevator. I am sure these elevators are the fastest elevators in the world. Seriously, no sooner had we pressed the button than the doors opened. I was looking for any excuse to leave, a slow elevator would have done the trick. As silly as it sounds, a fast elevator is a true kindness, there was no time to cut and run.
We checked in at the doctor’s office. They didn’t have me on the schedule but didn’t let me know, that would have been my sign to leave for sure. They took both me and my husband to an exam room. No weigh in, nice! No need to change into an exam gown, the doctor wanted to talk with us first. All very kind, very intentional acts of kindness.
Now, that may not mean a lot to many folks out there, but to meet a doctor fully clothed to talk first is so much kinder than to meet them for the first time in a gown all naked underneath sitting on an exam table. When she came in we just talked. She talked us through the exam process which could lead to a biopsy. She explained that the medical radiologist let her know what his findings were and that biopsy was most likely going to happen. She talked us through a biopsy, how it would either be in the office or downstairs in imagining, either way it would be today. Then stopped. Not taking us past the next step was a true kindness, no need to borrow worry.
She did the exam after I changed into a gown and walked us to the room for the biopsy herself. The trip must have been 15 steps at most, she reminded us about what the biopsy was going to entail. Opened the door and said she would be right back.
Honestly, if she hadn’t been right back, I bet I would have set a hospital record for how fast I got out of there. The next part is a blur. Truly, there isn’t really anything that I recall from that part of things. I held on to a penny, there was a crack in the wall I stared at the whole time. My husband said the doctor did commentary of what was happening during the process, stopped often for questions and made sure everything was ok. I had gone to my ‘not here’ place, not my happy place, why ruin that? My husband needed the commentary to keep from obsessing over what was happening, knowing and doing what he needed at that time was a great kindness.
She walked us back to the exam room when we were done and said she would be right back. She was right back with a cold pack for later, and ice pack for now and a few packets of over the counter pain meds. She talked us through the next step- waiting for results. This was the part that was not at all kind. It takes one week to get results. One week is a very long time to wait.
We stopped by the greeter before leaving as promised, she gave us two more bottles of water, apologized for it not being something stronger. She told us this was the best place to be for something like this and it was all going to be ok and that she would pray for us and our family. I believe her. I believe she did.
Each time we go to the hospital, and we go a lot, she is every bit as warm, welcoming and kind. It is a true kindness to see her when I go. She is so in tune to all who come that she can pick out when I am going to see the doctor or do something else. When I go to see the doctor she takes my hand and tells me it’s going to be ok, blood draws she gives me a bottle of water, imaging she gives me a recipe for the season and so on. Her kindness is infinite and is infinitely appreciated.
The thing I take away from all of this is that each act of kindness is amplified by the situation. When nothing is going on I thank people sincerely for their kindness. When everything is going on, hugs and tears may be in order for exactly the same action. It is interesting how much a very simple act of kindness can mean in an awful situation. One of my favorite hashtags is #choosekindness. Woman’s Baton Rouge definitely chooses kindness and acts accordingly because they know how much it means.