It’s About the People, Not the Cancer


This is part 4 of my ongoing series as I detail my experiences in my battle with colon cancer.

4 down, 8 to go.  That’s where I’m at in my therapy.

I’m often asked how I feel or how am I doing?  A vast majority of the time, the answer is great!  After 4 sessions, here is how I typically feel.  4 hours or so at the infusion center, followed by 44 hours on a pump.  I feel the most sluggish or tired the day after the pump is removed.  Within 3 days I’m back to 95%.  95% is the best I ever get to because I kinda always know there is something inside me fighting off the bad guys.

I am not complaining about 95%.  I dig 95%.  It’s an A after all, right?

Speaking of things I dig, the people I have crossed paths with on my journey have been amazing.  I’d like to spend most of this post singing their praises.

Before I get to them, I must again express my thanks to all of my friends, co-workers and social cohorts for their thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement.  Trust me, it makes a difference.  Thank you.

On therapy days, it starts at the front desk of my oncologist.  The office staff really cares about each client.  I don’t feel that same level of caring at my primary care doc.  (Sorry Doctor D.)  Doesn’t matter whether the patient is grumpy or gruff, the staff treats each one of us like we are the only patient of the day.

It doesn’t stop there.  The medical assistants cheerfully get us ready for our appointment with our doctor or the infusion center.

Then there are the infusion center nurses.  After just one trip, they greeted me by name.  I watch them do this over and over with other patients.  4 hours in a recliner gives you a pretty good read on people.  Every interaction with a patient is done gently with an extra dose of kindness.  I can now recognize the therapy newbies as they arrive for the first time, reminding me of the my first trip with Cindy.  Prepared for the worst, hoping for the best.  The nurses take a little extra time with every newbie, as they begin their own therapies.

I have spent more time in medical offices and hospitals since August 22nd than in my previous 51 years on this planet.  It gives me a chance to watch, listen to, and meet lots of other patients.  In my last post, I told the story of Ned and Nadine.  I have another story to share, this time about George and Lillian.

George and Lillian had to be in their mid to late 70’s.  I ran into them in the waiting room at the lab where I have to get blood drawn before each therapy session (Gotta keep the white cell count up!).  George, proudly wearing his Navy cap, uses a 3 wheel electric scooter to get around.  Whenever the front desk called for George, it was always “George and Liilian”.   Lillian doted on George, making sure he did everything he was asked to do.  When a urine sample was requested, Lillian led George into the restroom.  When they returned to the waiting room, Lillian sat next to George and asked him if he was cold.  George slowly nodded his head in agreement.  Lillian then asked him if he was tired.  Again, George slowly nodded yes.  Lillian then asked if he was hungry.  Same slow acknowledgement.  She then said “Are you George?”  He started to nod then quickly stopped, did a double take and then smiled at her.

They were called back for the lab work.  When they returned to the lobby, Lillian set about buttoning up George’s jacket before they ventured out into the early morning cold.  As she leaned in closer to get the last button, George slyly reached up a stole a kiss.  There was only one other patient in the lobby, and we were both smiling as George and Lillian made their way out the door.

This brings me to the most important people.  The people that take care of you when you need it, pump you up when you are down, and tell you to take it easy when sudden bursts of energy appear out of the blue.  My family has been the key for me.  Without them, remaining positive and strong would be next to impossible.  My wife has always taken care of me and our son.  She’s amazing.  Over these last few months, she has been with me every step of the way.

One day, 25-30 years from now, I know Cindy and I  will have a George and Lillian moment.

I can’t wait.

Photo CreditA Long Life Together. By mikecogh on Flickr. CC Licensed.



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About the Author
Bill Risser

Bill Risser is Vice President, New Media and Education of Chicago Title Agency in Maricopa County. You can find him at and on Twitter at @billrisser, that is, when he’s not on a local golf course with his son, at the movies with his wife, or tending to one of his four fantasy leagues (NFL, MLB, PGA, and NASCAR).

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