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The big C

by Barbara van de Sande about a year ago in humanity
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The adventures of cancer girl

The big C
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Anna is sitting in the waiting room and is reading a story about how the C word has the world in its grip. She gets confused for a second. 2020 is the year of the coronavirus for most of us, but for Anna it has been the year of the actual big C, cancer, and the chemo that followed. It's been over 4 months ago that she was diagnosed and there's no end in sight yet.

"Anna? Anne Nilsson?" Anna snaps out of her thoughts and gets up to greet the nurse that is calling her name. They walk to a comfy chair and start the process of yet another chemo session. She is used to the process by now, so time to settle in and do her journaling. The session will be over in about 2 hours. Anna grabs her little black book out of her bag and starts to write.

“The cancer girl. Day 129. Yet another chemo session. The days drag on. Every day is pretty similar. It’s been a couple of weeks now since I stopped working, it’s nice to have the time off and focus on my health. Both mentally and physically. But it feels like life has less of a purpose, I love my job, and definitely need the paycheck. The next couple of months are going to be tough, but I have enough saved up to make it through. And the most important thing now, my new purpose, is to get better. No one deserves to get cancer at the age of 28, but it happened and all you can focus on is getting better! Your career will bounce back later. You should come up with activities to keep you busy now, give your life purpose in a different way.”

Hundred-twenty-nine entries of “The cancer girl”. Some of Anna’s friends say she should write a blog or even a book about her experiences as a cancer patient at this age and in these pandemic times. But Anna just journals for herself, to help her remember the good and the bad and become a better Anna. Sometimes she does think about putting some of her stories online. It is hard to find a support group or information that Anna can relate to. Some patients are way older, some are younger and still live with their carers. This is definitely not what she had planned when she left her family behind and moved from Sweden to New Zealand 6 years ago. But who could? Life always surprises us.

The IV drip machine starts beeping, the bag hanging on the stand is empty. Another chemo session done. Anna quickly packs up her things and walks out of the door. Side effects will not kick in for a couple more days, so time to enjoy the day and continue writing outside in the lovely sun.

Saturday morning, the side effects have kicked in, Anna slowly wakes up to what is going to be a quiet day. Time to update the journal. Anna gets up to find her journal, but it is nowhere to be found. “This chemo brain is the worst!” she thinks. Where have a left it this time? Is it in a different bag? At the park? Guess an update to the adventures of cancer girl must wait.

Anna sits down in her chair for yet another chemo session. She still has not found her journal. She has searched the house, the car, her bags. Nothing! Guess it is time to find a new journal, she will just entertain herself with a book for now. She loves to read about all the adventures of the characters and daydream about a different life. “Anna? Anna?” Nurse Julie snaps Anna out of yet another daydream. “I’m so sorry Julie, must have dozed off. Are we finished already?”. “You have another 20 minutes to go, but this gift just arrived for you! How exciting!” Julie says “I’ll leave you to unpack”.

Anna is confused, who would send her a gift at the hospital? She pulls the ribbon and opens the box. Inside she sees a little black book and an envelope. She opens the black book, it is her journal! She opens the envelope and pulls out the letter inside.

“Dear cancer girl, I found your little black book during my chemo session. As you know, there is not much else to do during these sessions, so could not help myself and read your cancer girl entries. You are a good writer and such a strong girl. You seem to be handling you journey with humour and amazing strength. My journey is coming to an end, and as you said, we all need a purpose in life. My purpose will hopefully help you find yours. All you need can be found in this gift. Please live the life you dream off and share your strength with others. All you need is 8760.”

“All you need is 8760?” Anna repeats. That is quite cryptic. She puts the letter back in the envelope and takes another look at her journal. There are no new entries, what does 8760 stand for? She runs her fingers through the pages, and something falls out. Anna looks down, it is a debit card. She picks it up and reads the name on the card “Anna Nilsson”. This cannot be hers?

Still puzzled by her gift, Anna leaves the hospital. At the entrance she walks past the atm. “Hmm, why not give it a go”. Anna puts the card in the slot and enters the number, 8 7 6 0. A welcome screen appears, available funds $20,000 it says. “Twenty-thousand dollars? In my name?” A big weight falls off her shoulders, no worrying about finances anymore. Maybe it is time to publish those stories about cancer girl, a new page has been turned. What will the next adventure be?

humanity

About the author

Barbara van de Sande

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