All the nurses on my ward have been a bit miserable this last week or so. Because Gail has got cancer.
Gail's a woman in her 50's, but you've never met someone with more "teenager" energy; she refuses to act her age! She wears her hair in short, bleached spikes. She laughs and jokes about everything! Even this.
I think it was on the 13th that we were all called into the boss's office. Never a good sign... but none of us expected to see Gail sitting there, on her day off, looking grimly cheerful. She greeted us with, "well, I've got breast cancer... and not a good one either." Something like that, although I can't remember it clearly; I felt a bit numb.
Damn it, but we know too much about cancer sometimes. Gail's had a sore hip, and we all knew before the bone scan that it had spread to there. Once breast cancer has spread, even a little, it's incurable. You may survive a few sick years, but you'll lose the fight eventually. We know too much about bone pain, brain tumors, liver failure. I don't want to go to her funeral!
Even so, I hadn't given up hope for her until I visited her after surgery on Tuesday. It was such a twisted, nasty tumor that the surgeon couldn't get it all. And not only has it spread to her hip, but both legs, two ribs and two parts of her spine. It's aggressive and it's everywhere...
The funny thing is -- and I've seen it a thousand times, but I wasn't prepared to experience it -- that she is coping with this better than all of us on the ward. She's joking with the doctors, eager to get back to work, trying to get us to draw up a "visiting Gail" roster... Of course she's upset. But she's at peace with it.
And the good thing is, she's gotten to thinking. She's talking casually about life-after-death, and catching up with Paul (a nurse on our ward who died suddenly 2 years ago). She's considering what she believes.
So I'm praying a lot for Gail. I just hope I can be a bit of help.