Wait, what?

Patience.

HUH?  Patience is not something I naturally have in abundance. Ask anyone who has known me for more than five minutes.   But in this day and age, who does have patience?  We are a generation of convenience.   Our food is fast, our information is free,  and our streaming is instant.  We binge watch our favorite shows because we can’t stand to wait a week in between episodes.  Instant gratification has become our norm.

And then I got cancer.

When you are diagnosed with cancer, you want answers and treatment instantly.   Every moment is an eternity knowing that the cancer is there inside of you, growing with gleeful abandon (sort of like a malignant Johnny Appleseed).   But then you have to wait.  You wait for available appointments with the doctors who will become your team (probably more doctors than you have ever seen in your life to date).  You sit in waiting rooms, exam rooms, and treatment rooms, waiting for it to be your turn.  You wait hours, days, and weeks for results from blood tests and scans.  You wait for side effects to wane, and for medications to kick in.  Wait – it’s literally and figuratively a four-letter word.

And there is typically nothing you can do about it.  Yes, you can make calls and firmly nag, which sometimes helps, but in the end, our healthcare system is a big, hairy monster who does what it wants.  Which leaves you with two options:  lose your mind, or learn patience.

For me, I usually take my tablet or a book with me to doctor’s appointments and procedures in anticipation of the inevitable waits.  I look forward to catching up on HGTV in the waiting room while waiting for appointments  (What renovation miracle will Chip and Joanna perform this week???).  While waiting for results,  I focus on my life.  I can’t change what might happen in a few days, but I can live today like it counts.  Because it does.

Leo Tolstoy said, “The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”   All due respect to Leo, but he is missing one.  Along with time and patience, there is a third element of strength – the beautiful pink warriors that I am proud to call my sisters.  Surviving cancer is all about taking it one step at a time,  and patiently completing each obstacle in your journey.  And knowing that you will always be waiting – for follow-up tests and visits, as well as the possible recurrence.   You never escape from it.

So if you are newly diagnosed and feel like everything is happening in slow motion (or not at all), know that patience will come your way.  And you will emerge with a new outlook, a renewed sense of yourself, and, quite possibly, the ability and vision to turn a run-down mid-century ranch “Fixer upper” into a modern home.

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