The Waiting Room

Waiting for a loved one while they are having cancer treatments is such a trying experience. All attention, prayers, etc tend to be all on the cancer patient. Nobody sees the one who bears the brunt of it all.

Jennifer Estes

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Photo by Toni Koraza on Unsplash

I finish my daily journaling and open my phone to play a game of Sudoku as I sit alone waiting for Tom. This has become our routine for the last six weeks. Twice a day we drive the short block from our room at The Hope Lodge to the Cancer Building of the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona so Tom can have a proton beam radiation treatment.

Tom is in the back completing treatment number 60, his final treatment. Joe and Suzy walk in for Joe’s daily treatment as I am about to solve the sudoku puzzle and we say our hellos. Suzy says to me “Is today the day?” I answered her, “Yes! Finally, the last treatment is upon us!”

Joe asks me if I am happy to be heading home. I have missed home so bad, we drove almost 700 miles from our home in Utah to stay in Phoenix for two months so Tom could have the life-saving proton radiation treatments. I fell in love with Phoenix but am so homesick I can’t wait to get home. Our stay at the Mayo Clinic has been so long and yet such a short adventure.

I look around this waiting room and ponder on all the people I have gotten to know so well. Joe is being treated for prostate cancer. He and Suzy live in Flagstaff and have driven their motorhome to Phoenix and have been staying in an RV Park while Joe is being treated. My fond memory of this couple is the time Suzy’s cell phone rang as the room was packed with patients and their caregivers. The ringtone had a pig snorting and was a super obnoxious country-sounding farm tone. Joe looked up at everyone, slightly embarrassed by the sound, and said “my mother in law” as Suzy answered to talk to her mom. Everyone in the room laughed.

I think about Rob and Jaime, they are both 23 years old and Rob has leukemia. They moved from Colorado to stay with Rob’s parents who live in Scottsdale so he can have his treatments. They are young and beautiful, far too young to be dealing with a cancer diagnosis. I think about Mary, she is tall and thin with dark beautiful skin. She looks like a fashion…

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Jennifer Estes

I am a widow, a mortician, a mom, and grandma. I write about grief, caregiving, substance use disorder, and the death care industry.