It was my first day of radiotherapy. I had 6 weeks to go. I didn't know what to expect. I heard it was quick and painless (at first)and that was comforting. I said goodbye to my mother who remained calm and positive (on the outside) and i walked down the hall alone. I was given my own "special gown" (the nurse told me I could have that for six weeks and I had my own special hook..."Aren't I lucky?", I thought)and told to change into it.
There was a row of patients waiting their turn. They all sat silently staring at the grey walls. Each person pretended to not notice the other. Each person trying to hide their bodies as best as they could.I knew they were all thinking the same as me, "Where did the bastard get you?".
I have to be honest, many of them were quite a bit older than me. My first thought was, "This isn't fair, I'm around 40 years younger than these people; they've lived their life!" Then I hated myself for such a horrible thought. Why is my life anymore important than theirs? What makes me so special? What makes me any different? Why not me? I silently sent all my love and best wishes to them and said my first of many prayers..for them, for me.
The silence was broken by a man who entered after me. He sat beside me gleaming. As he smiled he asked, "So how long have you been having radiotherapy?" "It's my first day actually." "Oh, your first time around?" I didn't quite understand what he meant and then he explained...
'This is my fifth time. They can't help me anymore apart from keeping me comfortable. I'm on a win actually, I've been given another two months max. They didn't think I'd last this long". He continued to smile. He spoke of his family, his teenage children....and then it started to sound like..."Blah blah blah blah". I couldn't hear him anymore. I practiced my fake smile which I'd become accustomed to over the past week since diagnosis and would continue to use.
The nurse called me in. I'm sure she was talking to me. I'm sure she asked me some questions. I didn't hear. Would I end up like him? Is that what this is all about? I looked down at my "special gown" and I cried in the change room silently.
When my first session was finished I walked down the corridor and greeted my mother. I showed her a gleaming smile. (Little did I know how good I would become at this.)
I still think of him. I still think of his teenage daughters. I still wonder about his smile.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.