Last week, as my son and I sat outside absorbing some long overdue sunshine on a quiet summer afternoon, we noticed something under one of the deck chairs — a small, still, feathered body lying limp in the shade of the chair. Without needing to look closely, we knew instantly what it was. The hummingbird must have collided with a plexiglass panel on the deck. With great sadness, we placed the tender bird in the grave my son dug near some flowers in the yard, and he suitably marked the spot with a declaration of truth. Here, indeed, lies a hummingbird, one of the companions of my year’s experience.
In my e-mail last week, I received a link from a friend. You know those links, the ones designed to get you to sign a petition about a particular political issue. There are too many of these petitions to keep track of, and you can never be sure whether the petition arrives at its destination. This link, however, connects to a petition to prevent what’s being called “drive-thru mastectomies.” In the constant battle between health care providers and insurance companies (which will certainly not end despite the new federal legislation), the insurance companies are wanting to shorten the time a woman is allowed a hospital stay after a mastectomy to 48 hours. Now anyone who has undergone major surgery of any kind, not just mastectomies, knows that it is beyond ridiculous to expect patients to be ready to go home in such a short time. I signed the petition, hoping never to have to fight that battle myself. If you’d like to sign, you can find the petition here:
If you’d like to verify the petition or read the history of the legislation behind it, which has been stuck in committee in Congress for years, you can go to Snopes.com: http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/mastectomy.asp
If you’re not familiar with Snopes, you should be. It’s the best site to fact-check the various e-mail petitions, chain letters, and urban myths and legends that circulate in cyberspace. (The name of the site comes indirectly from a family of characters in William Faulkner’s novels. If you know those characters, you know the irony of the name for the site. The Snopes’ would never be clever enough to think up such a service. In fact, they’d likely contribute to the legends found there.)
Last week also brought a few spots of humor. A woman in the U.K. sent me the link to her blog about navigating chemotherapy with style and humor. You can find her here: http://glamotherapy.wordpress.com/
And I credit my brother for sending me this link, which is too good to save for its corresponding holiday:
The Dad Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOKuSQIJlog&feature=email
And here, for the moms, is the companion piece: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80olbDws8r0&feature=related
At the ending of this post, I’d like to mark a couple of beginnings. First is a nod to Western Washington Oncology, the center where I have undergone treatment. The staff and physicians at this center are the ones who saw me through chemotherapy and radiation and connected me with all those supportive ancillary services — massage and Reiki, acupuncture, naturopathy, yoga for survivors, and a counsellor , all under one roof, — which have made the burden of treatment easier to bear. As of next month, patients who are newly diagnosed with cancer can have an initial meeting with their entire medical team and support staff, which includes a patient navigator to shepherd them through the overwhelming and complex maze of cancer treatment. My conversations with friends from other parts of the country indicate that such an approach is not common. So here’s to a new way of helping patients at perhaps their greatest moment of need.
And finally, with the return of summer and my strength, I have begun again to don my rollerblades. Here’s to many days of zipping ‘round parking lots in the sun.