Excellence in Cancer Care.

December 5th, 2013, 9am

Everyone who comes here is dying. Well, yes, I know we’re all dying. But at GVI Oncology dying is not a thing that’s going to happen at some point in the future. Here, dying is now. It’s something that needs to be monitored and managed with great care and precision.

I’m here with my Dad to find out what he needs to do now that his cancer is back in full force after many years of remission.

I’m surprised at the mood in the waiting room. It’s not glum. It’s… calculated. Strangely light. Everyone has smiles on their faces — staff and patients alike. I appear to be the only one uncomfortable in the presence of a sign that promises “Excellence in Cancer Care.” I guess if this is your 20th, 30th, 40th visit you don’t have the luxury of being freaked out any more by the place where you go to get chemotherapy and bad news. Instead of focusing on your mortality, my guess is that you stay sane by focusing on problem-solving and facts. Things you can do. Treatments you can try. Numbers that go up and down over time to deliver harsh judgment (or cautious hope).

My Dad is nervous, though. He’s lived with his cancer for decades, but this time feels different. I think he’s more scared of leaving my Mom to fend for herself than he is of dying. But I don’t know. It’s difficult to talk with your parents about these things. This is new territory for all of us.

So I just wait patiently in the waiting room. For the consultation to be over. For very sick people to walk in and out with polite nods in my direction. For all of this to make sense. For my Dad to be ok.

I don’t like profanity so I never thought I’d say this. But you know what? Fuck cancer.

Cassie, Rob, Jack, Paul and 5 others said thanks.

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Rian van der Merwe

Family, design, coffee, and Oxford commas. On Twitter: https://twitter.com/rianvdm

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