"You are a piece of cake!" the oncologist said, her French-Canadian accent shining through. "You are a tree in a forest. You see the tree and I see the forest. My job is to get you through the forest."
The woman could not help but smile. She loved this doctor. There was always some kind of positive spin rolling off her tongue, a language the woman was not always the most fluent in.
The oncologist continued, "Not to minimize what you are going through. You have been through a lot, but I see the forest. Other trees are not as easy as you."
It was the prologue to one of the woman's most encouraging appointments yet. She sat in anticipation as the doctor turned the computer monitor in her direction. Her eyes locked in on the screen that posted her multiple weeks worth of lab results.
"Blood levels are good. Hemoglobin still a bit low, but going up. Liver function good. Creatinine still normal, but you need to drink more water," the oncologist reported.
They had gone through everything on the screen. What about my hormone levels? the woman thought. She looked at the doctor whose face wore an eager smile, like she had been saving the best news for last. The doctor scrolled down the screen while the woman leaned in for a better look.
"This is very good!" the oncologist affirmed.
And it was good news. Prior to walking into that room, the woman had prepared herself for the worst—a rise in the levels marking the need to switch to a stronger, more aggressive chemo drug—and hoped for the best—levels to zero. The 95% drop to 119 from two weeks prior was really, really good news. She would still need at least another round of treatment since the weren't at zero, but these were the lowest levels yet, which was a great encouragement.
It's amazing what a good doctor and good news does to a person's patience. The woman left and settled in the waiting room once again, waiting for the assistant to bring her a new appointment schedule. Upon receipt of it began another series of unfortunate going-to-the-doctor annoyances. The scheduler had scheduled the appointments all wrong, the doctor had forgotten to write up her new prescription, the chemo shot took forever to get ready, and the pharmacy caught an inconsistency in the prescription which lengthened the ready time. Had it all happened at the last appointment, the woman would have for sure been annoyed, but oddly enough this time around she wasn't bothered a bit.
She walked down the corridor towards the parking garage elevator. Tears of joy stirred within her. While they never made it to her eyes, they filled her heart with hope of the weeks to come. She had come so far, and for that she was thankful.