A couple of days after treatment number ten I had an appointment for a routine physical with my general practitioner. Given the almost-daily attention that my health was getting from the staff at the oncology clinic, it seemed superfluous to be getting an annual physical. Nonetheless, the insurance company mandated it, and I wanted very much to keep the bill-payers happy.
The physical was mostly uneventful. The doc disclosed that from the medical reports he had received from oncology, it appeared that I was doing "remarkably well". Then to my utter shock he revealed that, "Back in September, [he] wasn't sure [I'd] pull through, given the stage of disease."
I am no doctor, but it seems obvious to me that when you are minding the health of a body that is not your own, care must be taken to not cross that sometimes hard-to-see line between thoughts that are appropriate to say out loud, and those which should remain unspoken at all cost.
I quickly decided that assuming the best of intentions would be wisest. I don't remember how I responded, or even if I responded. I do remember thinking, "Doctors are people, too. I am sure he didn't mean it the way it sounded. He probably means that he is encouraged by my progress, when a cure is statistically unlikely..."
Just then I heard the distinct voice of my aunt, who herself is a stage IV cancer (and chemotherapy) survivor of over twenty years. She had been among the first to call soon after my surgery five months earlier. "You are not a number!" she wisely counseled.
I am not a number. I'm a person in need of a lot of help to get healthy.