Waiting rooms at the cancer center have become my new favorite place to people watch. You have the people that stare at you when you walk through the door. I can always hear them saying, “she looks too young to be here”. I will probably appreciate that comment in 20 years. There are the people who are staring at their phones. Then there are the patients and their loud obnoxious family members who are complaining about how long they have been waiting. I usually sit in the corner of the waiting room and watch what is happening around me. It’s like my own version of a soap opera some days.
When I am in the upstairs waiting room waiting to check in, I always hear the most interesting comments. One time I was waiting to check in and was sitting next to a girl who was curled up in a ball. I could tell she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t appreciate everyone staring at her. I always stare at the clock and avoid eye contact with everyone. I have found that if you look at someone and make eye contact they tend to think that’s my way of saying how I would love to hear their story. Not at all. As I was staring at the clock the person that was with this girl kept walking in and out saying it was time to go. The girl kept shaking her head no and wasn’t listening. Finally when he came in another time she started freaking out about a prescription. She proceeded to yell, “ I have f*cking cancer pain!” She kept saying it over and over again and each time growing louder and louder. Thank God I didn’t open my mouth because I probably would have said, “everyone here has cancer pain lady. Did you not read the sign, CANCER Center, when you walked in the door?” In my head I inserted several f bombs and other words. The last thing anyone wants to hear is you bitching about your pain and making a scene.
Another time I was waiting to check in to see my oncologist and I was in the check in area alone. I love it when its just me in that room because then I don’t have to interact with anyone or talk to complete strangers that want to know all about me. Apparently I look healthy since I have hair. Wrong yet again. I was sitting minding my own business when another patient walked in. He was by himself and sitting minding his own business. I thought finally someone who appreciates the calm sounds of awkward silence in a waiting room. Boy was I wrong. Right before I was called to check in he decided to say, “Well at least cancer isn’t my problem.” While most people would have been offended by this comment I just started laughing to myself. It’s not everyday that you walk into a cancer center and hear someone say, “Cancer isn’t my problem.” When I went back to see my oncologist I was still laughing. When I told him about the bizarre comment he started laughing too. I mean what else can you do? People just don’t think before they speak.
At my last two appointments I have encountered screaming family members. I am not joking about the screaming part. I knew she was going to be trouble based on her power walk and the crazed look in her eye. Once again I was sitting in the check in waiting area when she was called in to check in a family member. Within minutes the floodgates of her rage opened. She started yelling about this and that and demanding answers to everything. All I thought was holy shit she’s either really pissed off about her family members blood work or taking out her frustration on the check in people. Even my mom could hear her screaming at the woman about something. We have no control over what happens in our lives. However, there is a difference between accepting it or letting it rule our lives. She was clearly letting her family member’s illness be the excuse for screaming at the people trying to help her. I don’t understand why family members of patients think its ok to yell at the people who are trying to help you. They are doing their best. Plus I don’t think it’s a wise decision to yell at someone before they stick you with a needle.
You’re probably reading this thinking that this must be what it is like when she goes to the cancer center. Although it certainly makes for an entertaining read, it isn’t always like that. Usually when I go its pretty boring which sometimes is a good thing. Probably one of my favorite stories is when I saw a mom and her toddler in the waiting room. Her daughter was really cute. While she was sitting there with her mother she kept looking at us. She kept blowing us kisses and staring at us with her big brown eyes. The mom was there waiting to pick up a prescription for anti-nausea pills. I couldn’t imagine trying to take care of a young child while going through treatment. I can barely take care of myself some days. We talked with her for a little while before I was called back for my appointment.
No matter where you go you will always encounter interesting people. Sometimes it’s someone screaming at another person and other times it may be a toddler blowing you kisses. I always try and be nice to everyone because you have no idea what is going on in their life on that particular day. Cancer is a disease that brings out a lot of emotions in people. Whether it be anger, frustration, sadness, or laughter, everyone has a right to feel how they feel. In the words of Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.”