The hardest part of cancer is walking into the infusion center week after week. The hardest part is smelling the alcohol swabs, wearing yet another wristband, and seeing the avocado drawing with the caption, “You guac!” The hardest part is answering the same questions about my birthday, whether my insurance has changed, and if I have any new allergies. I don’t want to get my blood drawn, and I don’t want to get weighed every week by the same woman with the beautiful blue eyes who has a “Helluva commute I tell you. Looks like the world is getting back to normal.”
I don’t have any fucking new allergies.
I wish for a fire alarm in the middle of one of my infusions. I want the nurse to panic and rush me out of the building, still attached to my IV. The street would be filled with sick people and tiny babies in incubators. We would squint at the sunshine waiting for the fire fighters to arrive. A siren in the distance would cue my oncologist to start directing traffic, telling cars to get out of the way, to make way for the fire truck. My surgeon, fresh blood on her scrubs, would strike up a conversation with the check-in guy. “Can you believe this?” she’d say, removing her gloves. “Well, this is different!” One of the babies would start to cry and, maybe because I’m wearing a soft pink sweater, one of the nurses would ask if I’d mind holding the baby. I’d still be holding the warm blanket from the infusion center so I’d wrap it around the baby and sit down carefully on the curb. The baby’s eyes would be foggy because they’re brand new. I’d whisper, “Hush, it’s just a warning.” The truck would pull up and four fire fighters would run inside. The cafeteria woman would have a guitar and she would start playing Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know.” Everyone would sing along. She moved so easily all I could think of was sunlight. The baby I’m holding would fall asleep. I’d stand up, taking care my IV is still in place, and return the baby to a nurse. I’d start dancing with the woman with the blue eyes who does my vitals. We’d be perfectly in step, doing a Charleston type of move.
It would be a false alarm of course, and everyone would eventually go back inside. But that day would be different. Easy even.