I asked the nurse if I got the name right. And she said yes, it's Karen in Rm. 307. I was in Rm. 313. I said I wanted to visit her, but the nurse said they were not accepting visitors at the moment. I asked her a favor: can you please tell her my name?
It was early 2010 and she was at our common friend's house. They called and that's when I learned that we were on the same boat. She had a tumor on her breast removed back in 2006 and was told that if it doesn't come back in five years, she'd be good to go. So, at that time we were both in remission.
We discussed chemotherapy and shared the same view. We both didn't want to undergo such treatment. But nevertheless, I advised her to visit an oncologist for her to know where she stands. Apart from her views and stories, I heard anger and hatred echoing on her voice.
That was the first time we talked.
After this encounter, I only had to rely on our common friend to know how things were on her side. I learned that she took the path of alternative medicine and was doing good. I, then, told her if she could give her my number and send me a message because I wanted to refer her to a hospice, just in case there would be a need.
Then, came April. I was just diagnosed that my cancer is back when I got a message from her. She told me that she has another cyst and this time, she was told to go to an oncologist and undergo chemotherapy. This time, we do not share the same views anymore. I was getting ready for my first chemotherapy, and she told me that she still won't do it. Again, I told her to visit an oncologist to know where she stands. We were exchanging messages almost the whole afternoon.
The next day, I got a message from her. She told me that she visited an oncologist and that she was advised to undergo both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I replied, "That's good to know. Do we have the same oncologist?" But I didn't get a reply.
Days later (it was a Saturday, I remember), our common friend called and told me that Karen was rushed to the hospital. Incidentally, the same hospital where I was due to be confined the coming week.
The nurse came the next day telling me that I could go visit her. So, when the cleaning people came to my room, I went. Karen was sitting but she had oxygen. I introduced myself, told her that I was her text mate. She asked why I was there with the mask and IV and told her that I'm getting my first chemotherapy and she said, that's good. She said she, too, started oral chemotherapy and we have the same oncologist. I didn't stay long. I saw how difficult it was for her to speak.
It was good to finally meet her, no matter how good or bad the circumstances were.
A week after my chemotherapy, I visited my oncologist for a follow-up. After we talked about those experiences I had within the week, she told me that I would be good to go for the second cycle. Before I said thank you, I asked about Karen.
She left last night.