One of my patients died over the weekend. I found out this morning at work. She was one of my lymphedema post-op mastectomy patients. She was actively on chemo the entire time that she was under my care. Her husband was amazing – with her every visit – sitting by her side at her beck and call. He was right with her up to the end – least that is what I have been told, and I can’t picture it any other way. I heart her and him and it makes me sad. I am sad. I wish it was not so, but I know she is out of pain. And that tactile side of me misses her skin. This lil old lady w/ skin like warm oiled tissue paper. Soft and smooth, silky and so delicate – her arteries and veins pulsing underneath as I worked on her. I fixate on such things as I am working. I loosened the scar tissue around her initial surgical scars, helped the edema (swelling – only more complicated than that), and touched her – which sounds like nothing in the outside world, but once you’re in that position and you have been fighting breast cancer and lung cancer for many years, actively fighting it, it is a good thing just to be touched by soft hands. I have very soft hands. Over a thousand bodies a year pass under these hands for treatment. I am going on with my week, but I needed to take a moment and express the pain of loss for a moment.

When I am around patients in active treatment for things like that it reminds me of the true meaning of the phrase, “What fresh Hell is this?” There is no better way to describe navigating the complex system of western medicine and the insanities of cancers that remit, grow, metastasize, shrink, die, and/or kill you without reason or malice. It is not personal.

There are those that believe that it is all based in the head of the patient. I want to say yes, I want to believe that too, but I can’t. I just can’t. It is just another mutation, I have my own theories about that. Not everyone can be Gambit or Wolverine, absorb a twin in the womb or be born with lobster claws, sometimes we have to have cancer instead.

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