I am not a person to call the doctor and have all kinds of tests done at the onset of a pain. With my history I should, but I don’t. It has nothing to do with bravery; it has all to do with fear. I know all about catching something early, still I wait and hope.
When I make my appointment 3 months early for my six month check up, I fold the appointment reminder in 4 parts and stick it in my purse never to look at it again until it’s time to make arrangements for that day. In my feeble mind what I can keep out of sight is also out of mind, out of heart.
One day, a few minutes before the end of the day, I caught the standing Manager (the department manager had resigned two weeks earlier) on his way out and told him I needed “tomorrow” off. He stared at me as I justified my delay in requesting the day off by “forgetting about it”. I also said I would be in NYC. With his long coat on, he kept staring at me making me feel I needed to explain my delay even further. Finally, he asked me to step into his office.
I sat down and he spoke softly. He acknowledged employee privacy but…”something, something about that fear in your eyes as you ask for the day off…May I ask what you go for? It is obviously a doctor’s appointment” NHL, I replied. “I’ll be darn” was his answer as he leaned back on his chair.
Leaning forward he produced a piece of newspaper yellowed by time out of his wallet. “I recognized the fear”, he said. “I went through college with no hair; on chemo for 3 years and I went to the same place where you go”. He handed me the paper. The article he treasured said “research shows that some forms of aggressive Non Hodgkins Lymphoma can be cured”.
We talked a little about his experience two decades earlier and the freedom he felt he had earned after so many years.
Roy walked me to the door and gave me a pat on the back wishing me good luck.
I learned from that day that even the best covered emotions can be spotted if we look hard enough. Sometimes a look, a word, the way a person looks away when they talk, is a hidden signal that offers so much insight into that person’s feelings. All we have to do is tune in to break through that wall we all build around our fears and insecurities. Most of the times, it is a welcome intrusion.