My friend has cancer. And ever since she was diagnosed, it is like she is falling down a well. Falling and falling. For months now. As she goes from doctor to doctor and test to test. A never ending parade of health care professionals. Some who are wonderful. And many who seem to have forgotten that the person they are putting in the machine is an actual person. A person who is vulnerable. And frightened. The person who is their third. Or fifth body that they have had to put in their particular machine that day. And the putting of the person in that machine is their job. And maybe they just forgot that making an offhand comment about potentially looking at a body part which has not yet been identified as having metastasized cancer in, causes a domino effect of fear. A tsunami of worry. To someone who is trying to hold it together. Someone who received a cancer diagnosis that went from a stage two to a stage four seemingly overnight. Or the other guy who asked about her diagnosis. Asked if she had kids. Wished her good luck. These comments are not helpful. Maybe just stick to talking about the weather. Or the traffic. Upcoming holidays. Something impersonal. And benign. Unlike her disease.
And the well that my friend has fallen down. We are falling with her. Her friends and co-workers. Her family. We are all in the well. Tumbling and tumbling down. It is dark and slimy and we have yet to find the bottom. I picture us falling all together. Clinging tenuously. To her. To each other. The diagnostic tests are almost complete. She has had the alphabet soup of scans. CT scan. Bone scan. MRI. PET scan. But right now we are still falling and falling.
The final diagnostic test is the bone biopsy. The spots in her bones need to be tested. And then we will all hit the bottom. The bottom of the well. And we will know. We will know the treatment. We will know the scope of her disease. We will know what happens next. To the extent that that is knowable. We will know what the treatment plan will be.
We will still have bad days. Anxious days. Days when we just curl up into ourselves. Days when we need to get outside and see the sun. Days when we talk about punching the cancer. Or punching the insensitive health care workers. Days when we just want to hug. Or cry. Days when the only people that we want to talk to are each other. The other people falling down the well.
Today told her that I am sorry. That I need to better. That I need to set aside my feelings and just be there for her. Because otherwise, otherwise I am just being selfish. And I am trying not to be. Because although I am falling down the well too. It’s not my well.