He is speech impaired, so I didn't get his name. Over the past weeks, we have become pals. I almost said we have become "friends", but I am probably guilty of calling everyone my friend, which diminishes those time-tested true friendships that are in fact special and life-enriching. Hope that means I just like people...and easily identify people as friends, or pals.
We have been meeting daily at 8:00 AM in Dr. Sharazi's waiting room for our back-to-back radiology treatments.
Our first encounter did not get off to a good start. I spoke to him and his wife (small talk) but they did not respond. Awkward, I thought. No, downright rude! Then I realized they are both hearing and speech impaired. I was ashamed of thinking they ignored me. So I resorted to a friendly hand wave as we met and left each day. He has a very pleasant smile.
The past couple weeks, we began communicating more with sign language. Since I do not know official hand signals, it was very primitive, but effective communication. We learned two people can overcome any obstacle if they work at it.
Last Thursday, my pal came in after I did. He sat down, waved to me, and smiled. Then he held up four fingers. He counted them off. One, he communicated, was for that day's treatment (since he pointed back to the treatment room). Then he slowly counted off the three remaining treatments. So I asked, "You only have four treatments left?" He must be a good lip reader as he smiled and nodded his head "yes". I said, "Me too," holding up four fingers. Then he held up nine fingers, signifying he was completing a nine week regiment (45 treatments). I held up seven fingers for seven weeks, or 35 treatments.
Today, my pal and I graduated from our first-hand course in radiation. I had one more message for him. Pointing to myself, I folded my hands in prayer, and pointed to him and his wife. My simple way of saying, "I will be praying for you." And then in the universal language, I gave my pal a hug. I wanted to say, "I love you!" His reply was one more hand gesture: a thumbs up, which spoke to me; "We are going to be OK".
Neither my pal nor I wanted to join this club, but we have learned there are some wonderful members wearing the blue ribbon, if we just take the time to get to know each other. We learned another thing: Men, who don't communicate about much (especially asking for directions when we are lost, much less about something as private as PROSTATE cancer) can and must communicate as freely as women do about their health issues.
One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. One in 35 men die of prostate cancer. Next to skin cancer, it is the most common cancer among men. My pal and I are in the club, and we set off today on a new journey: treatment completed...life as a cancer SURVIVOR begun.
Bill Jenkins, cancer survivor 9 months
From the Quote Garden
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same."
~ Flavia Weedn, Forever, © Flavia.com