Day +94: Observations

At six days until our homecoming, it is time to make some observations about what we have seen and done.

Observation 1: As a recent Cancerwise poster mentioned a few days ago, we can come here expecting to see people dying of cancer. Instead, we see people living with cancer … and the expectation of healing. Sure, there are those who are obviously suffering. One gentleman had part of his nose and upper lip eaten away. He didn’t seem to be troubled by his appearance. He was surviving and undergoing treatment to improve his life.

We talked to a lady who blatantly disregarded signs of GVHD (Graft Vs Host Disease). The result is that she has been in Houston since December of last year. She wasn’t discouraged. She was glad the doctors could keep her out of the hospital again.

Observation 2: When we are waiting for appointments, we have the opportunity to people watch. We have easily come to the conclusion that MD Anderson is the best place to be if cancer is a part of a person’s life. Why? People from around the world come here for treatment. Some are easy to recognize like the ladies in black burqas. Of course those from an oriental background are relatively easy to spot, especially when they are accompanied by dialogue in their native language. We see Hispanics, European, tons of Americans, and assorted other nationalities. The world seems to know that MDA is the best place to be if a healing from cancer is desired.

Observation 3: The doctors, nurses, staff, and support people are some of the friendliest as well as the best in the world. It doesn’t make any difference who is asked, if help is needed, those with an MDA ID will stop what they are doing and help. They will even stop pause in their task to walk the patient to a place where he or she cannot help but reach the required destination.

Observation 4: It is easy to recognize first timers. They walk through the door to the main building and gawk. There is really no other word for it. At first glance and maybe the second and third, MDA Main is overwhelming. The first people they see is a University of Texas police officer who will willingly direct them to their destination or the information desk. Still confused, those of us who are “old timers” will stop and help. Just the other day, two small groups were standing confused at Elevator B. They needed Elevator C. I directed first one, then the other across the lobby to where they needed to be. Another couldn’t figure which floor they needed. I had been to their desired location. I could help.

It’s that way with all the patients. We remember our first visit. We want the new patients to be comfortable in their new surroundings. We are “paying it forward.” No one asks us to, we just do it. We become an extended part of the healing experience. We are family.

Observation 5: MDA loves to help people in any way possible. Whether the need is financial, spiritual, emotional, or many other types of need, MDA has a program. Grants are available for those who cannot meet all the expenses. Chapels for many religions are on premises. Services to help caregivers as well as patients are made available. Melanie enjoyed a free chair massage while I was doing a PET scan.

My tinnitus grew worse from all the drugs. My APN (Advance Practice Nurse) set an appointment for me with an audiologist. He confirmed what I already knew. I had hearing loss in both ears. He priced a pair of hearing aids for me. Way out of my league. He investigated my insurance and applied to a foundation for me. I now have top-of-the-line hearing aids – for free.

I’ll conclude with this. We have observed that MDA is a place of miracles. We have experienced them personally and heard of them from others. We thank God for MDA and the work being done here.

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