Today, as I do the day after every chemotherapy session, I took myself back to the chemo room to get a shot of Neulasta, the wonder drug that boosts my white blood cells, which chemo kills off, rendering me immunosuppressed. The Neulasta rebuilds the white blood cells within about 10 days, and in the meantime, I take a prophylactic antibiotic.
Katy, you may remember, is MY nurse, and she was her usual cheery self as we discussed podcasts and walking, and other inane things as she readied the shot and my arm. The whole process took about ten minutes.
Just as Katy was walking away, another patient was walking toward us. “What can I do for you Florence?” Katy asked. Florence was an older, maybe 75-year-old, African American woman with not too many teeth in her head. She limped slowly toward us, and anyone could see that with her beautiful hair and flashing eyes, she had once been a real spitfire.
“I want to talk to this young lady,” Florence said, motioning toward me. She proceeded, with Katy’s help, to sit on a stool near my feet, as I was still sitting in one of the big chemo recliners. Katy looked a little nervous, truth be told.
“Young lady,” Florence began, “I want you and Katy to hear this because it doesn’t get said enough. I was diagnosed with the cancer about ten years ago and this here Katy lady has been here for me the whole time. Now I’m not always in the best mood when I come here, but Katy and these other ladies are always as nice and as sweet as can be. It don’t get said enough and I want her to hear it, but Miss Katy is always patient with me even when I’m as ornery as can be.”
“She’s wonderful,” I replied, awestruck.
“She’s the best there is,” Florence agreed, “I don’t believe it’s a job for her to be here. I believe she was brought here for a reason and she is as wonderful and patient as can be even when I’m in a bad mood and hard to deal with.”
With that, Florence started to get up off the stool, and Katy again moved to hold her arm and help her with her two bags. “You’re a nice young lady and you’re going to do just fine,” Florence pronounced.
I couldn’t reply that time. She shuffled away with her cane, and I just sat there, dumbstruck.
“Are you okay?” Katy asked.
“I am,” I said and realized that there were tears flowing down my face. Katy hopped over to the desk and got me a tissue box. She patted my back for a minute. “Are you okay?” she asked again.
“I’m just feeling so lucky, so blessed,” I sobbed, unable to stop myself. For all of the crap of cancer, there are a whole lot of wonderful people who’ve been watching over me from near and far.
“Well there’s a good energy coming off from you, Miss Aimee,” Katy said.
I finally got myself under control, stood and hugged Katy. She patted my back again. “See you next time,” she said with a smile and went to minister to her next lucky patient. I hope she felt as good as both Florence and I meant her to.
I don’t know where Florence came from or who sent her to me when I’m feeling so crappy today, like I always do one day post-chemo, but I am grateful. I know I’ll feel better tomorrow. And I just know in my heart of hearts that Florence is right: I’m going to be okay. I’m going to do just fine.