Let’s face it.

 

When you go to the Moffitt Cancer Center website you see the faces of Moffitt.  The providers, the patients, the families…and right away your see Patty’s face.  She’s the one with the purple (the color of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness) scarf and the giant smile…right on their home page (www.moffitt.org):

 

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When you go to the ACTUAL Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa for Chemo you see many faces as well…Patty walks directly to the lab to get her blood work done and then goes to wait for an exam room.

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Rebecca’s face:

Rebecca has been there each time I’ve been there…she wears these awesome medical clogs that are striped and shiny and blue…and they perfectly match her cobalt blue scrubs.  Rebecca is a nurse.    She listens intently and asks Patty how she is.  Patty faces her and responds, “I’ve got nothing to complain about.”  And that’s what we expect from Patty.

Rebecca checks blood pressure and makes notes for the Physician Assistant.  That’s why we’re here.   Prior to chemo Patty has an appointment with her P.A.

Nawreen’s face:  

But first Nawreen.  Nawreen enters Patty’s exam room w her clipboard.  Her name tag says “Nawreen” and it says RESEARCH beneath that.  Patty thinks this is about a clinical trial and is alert and ready, but its not a clinical trial.  It’s more behavioral/social.  Nawreen describes a study she’d like to have Patty join.  “We are hoping to learn more about the partners of people in treatment.”  She asks if Patty has a spouse.  “Yes?  Well we’d like to see how you interact with your spouse.”  This strikes all four of us (Jane, Jean, Patty and me) as absolutely the funniest thing we’ve ever heard.  Only Nawreen seems to misunderstand the hilarity.  Patty asks her if she’s married.  She’s not.  And we laugh all the more!

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“Well, you see, as part of the study we come to your house.  We put a blood pressure cuff on your husband for twenty four hours…and we also watch the two of you have two ten minute conversations. We would like to record those.”  The four of us begin to laugh again…only louder this time.

“Can I pick another spouse?” laughs Patty.

and Jean feels the need to add, “You can have mine!”  which is helpful and obviously hilarious…but poor Nawreen doesn’t know what to make of us now.  “Well…the thing is…we don’t talk for ten minutes…EVER” says our Patty.  (More laughter!)  And Nawreen, who has been raised on the usual twenty-something diet of romantic comedies and love stories looks a bit uncomfortable.  She pauses and launches into the next aspects of the study.  “Your spouse wears the blood pressure cuff all day and then comes home and takes it ALL OFF.”  All four of us hoot and holler! “Woo Hoo!….”  And Nawreen raises a white flag in surrender and joins in the debauchery…we laugh and laugh…

“I’ve been here since 7am.  You guys have made my day so much better…”  She says.

Patty shares a story with Nawreen and the rest of us lean in to hear as well…”The other day I was making poems to put inside the plastic easter eggs for all the little cousins in our extended family’s Easter Egg Hunt.  My husband teared up, and I asked him why.”

He said, “because it’s so nice.”

An image of his face surfaces in my mind.  He’s very nice too.

Jean’s face has tears.

The P.A’s face:

Patty’s Physician Assistant (P.A.) is pretty and tiny and wears high heels.  She’s not just a pretty face.  Usually she approaches the exam room from the end of the hall, and the clicking of her heels announces her arrival long before her smile arrives.  This time she comes from the exam room next door, “Was there a party going on in here?”  She smiles.

There is an underlying tension in the room and a silence that is heavy and thick as we await for her keyboard clicks to reveal what the blood work will tell us.  If the cancer marker numbers go DOWN that means the chemo is working, and the regimen of treatments will continue.

At first the results are not available.  The room feels small.  I look at Jane because I feel that I will know what to do from watching her.  She looks stiff and uneasy.  Patty chats with her P.A., and I do NOT look at Jean.  Jean jokingly calls herself a “crier,” but really it’s more than that…she feels everything so quickly and so deeply…I do not look at Jean.

The PA clicks on the keyboard again searching for results just as Rebecca enters the room with a small piece of paper.  The results.  The cancer markers show that the chemo is working.  The numbers are DOWN!  The numbers are DOWN!

Jean’s face has tears.

We leave Moffitt to go to one of the satellite infusion centers.  I fumble to find my valet ticket so I can retrieve my car…

The Strangers’ Faces:

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At the valet stand  two women sit next to one another on the bench outside of Moffitt Cancer Center.  I walk up to the podium nearby and hand over my valet ticket.  I am thankful for the convenience.    I step back to wait and begin to watch the two women on the bench.  They are obviously strangers to one another but have begun to speak softly together.  I guess that they are joined in their common challenge and in their shared language.  Life is now a series of  cancer treatments and scans and blood work.  Prior to this, life had been easier.  Now it is harder.  One of the women wears a wig and has a cane.  The other has a hat pulled down firmly over her thinning hair.  A car pulls up.  One of the ladies gets up and glances down at the other.  “We’re going to beat this Janet…”  she says.  And she walks  to her car.

The nurses’ faces:

At the infusion center the nurses show us pictures of their young children.  Young faces.  Capable moms.  Patty’s IV is one of the longer drips.

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Six hours drip by…Jean and I take turns rubbing Patty’s shoulders and massaging her hands.  Patty mostly sleeps in the recliner next to the IV pole.  We look at our phones.  We read books.  And Jean looked out the window and saw a cloud that looked like a face.  It turned toward her and smiled.

We are usually one of the last cars to leave at the end of the day.

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The last hour of our day is the ride home.  Patty always sleeps.  We navigate the rush hour traffic back to Patty’s house.

Patty’s husband met us in the driveway this Tuesday.  He looked anxious.  Patty walked slowly into her house and went straight to her bed.  We gave her husband, Guy, details of the day.  He gave us hugs.  Patty’s sister Jane would spend the night to help.  Patty’s Aunt Margie would come over the next morning…Round Five of this twelve-round regimen is in the books.

Jean and I pulled away.  I turned to face Jean.

__________________________________________________________________________________________-

 

 

Whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself because I love you, yes I do.

And when you give me that pretty little pout, it turns me inside out.

There’s something about you baby, I don’t know.

Isn’t it amazing a man like me can feel this way?

Tell me how much longer, it could grow stronger every day.  Oh how much longer?

I thought I was in love a couple of times before with the girl next door,

but that was long before I met you, now I’m sure that I won’t forget you.

And I thank my lucky stars that you are who you are,

and not just another lovely lady set out to break my heart….

by James Taylor

________________________________________________________________________________________

On a cubicle at Moffitt:

 

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23 Comments Add yours

  1. mustlovejava says:

    please don’t give up, your story is incredible

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She’s ON it. 🙂 thanks MLJ!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lynchlines says:

    What wonderful observations, Julie. So glad Patty has all of you as she battles this next round. Keeping her in my thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Deb…so glad you are sending along encouragement…xo much appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mama Betty says:

    Another beautifully written descriptive account of a day in the chemo life of Patty. Thank you, ladies😘Sorry I couldn’t be with you. She loves you gals .💕👍🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. She’s pretty easy to love, Mama B….xo

      Liked by 1 person

    2. She’s so easy to love, thanks Mama B!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mjphill says:

    Patty, and her team, continue to be such an inspiration! A true testament of love, friendship, devotion and courage! Thank you for continuing to share Patty’s journey, her story certainly keeps “life” in perspective! Continued prayers for Patty, her family and her team!! Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for following along Marilyn!!

      Like

  5. Pqt says:

    💜😄😃😢🤤😴💜. As always, Julie, your words bring to life a day in our beautiful Patty’s journey. I feel all of them, as if I had been there. ❤❤❤

    Liked by 2 people

  6. jguch says:

    Another amazing account of our Miracle Girl’s journey- thank you Julie! You have such beauty and grace in your words 😍
    ( I read it and guess what i did!?!?) 😢 LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tracey Vita says:

    You girls keep me so inspired and focused. Thrilled to hear this round is working, I think the praying is working too. But I know how hard all of you are working and you’re all in my prayers.<3

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your support means so much Tracey!!

      Like

  8. Phyllis says:

    Our miracle gal is still at it!! Thank you Julie, and the rest of you for being such dear friends. Patty is so fortunate to have you! Love to Mama B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Phyllis!!!!

      Like

  9. PAUL A. MAECHTLE says:

    Thanks again for the update. Everything you guys mention in this email bring back the memories of our family’s experience at Moffitt. I too remember the Valet Parking? I also remember the revolving door. I remember HOW MANY PEOPLE are there the day you are there and then multiply it by the days you are not there. Unfortunately you are not alone!! Way too many people deal with C. I remember sitting through the anxious moments waiting to see if blood counts were good enough to proceed with the days treatment. I remember the recliners and the drips.

    Your email filled with laughter, anxiousness, and hope was as good a read as the Route 66 trip journal. Thanks again to whoever makes the post.

    I am glad you all received positive news on this most recent journey. My best to Patty!!!

    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement Paul…so glad to have you along for the ride!

      Like

    2. Janey says:

      Thank you Paul!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Janey says:

    Julie, thank you for continuing to chronicle the journey so beautifully. 💜 I know patty will continue her fight because everyone loves a happy ending!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. tdiamant says:

    Thank you, Julie. You observe such interesting details, telling the story with laughter and love.

    Liked by 2 people

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