You Mean, Besides the Cancer?

handAs a doctor walks through a hospital, he is master of all he surveys. He‘s the Lion, and everyone in the pride defers to him. The nurses, the technicians, hospital staff and pharmacists, all well educated themselves, await his arrival, follow his “orders”.

And the hospital itself is spread over acres. Most hospitals offer complimentary valet parking, because it‘s cheaper than sending out search parties for patients who have lost their cars.

The complex is the size of a man-made mountain, and a river runs through it. A river of humanity; pushed by the same flow, the flow of survival, of discomfort, of anxiety. Every time the doors open, more people are pushed through. The river runs and never stops.

And at every significant turn through this jungle, you meet another person foreign to you. They are trained to ask questions, to learn your purpose for being here and push you down yet another tributary, to another department, to another interrogator.

Of course, they need to ask questions but there is one that is the most painful to hear – “Are there any significant health issues we need to be aware of?”

We used to be confused and hurt by this, but now we have a stock answer designed as much to shock the interrogator as inform them.

“You mean, besides the cancer?”

Fragile, Handle With Care

Every day, delicate and precious items are shipped throughout the world; anything from sensitive computer gear, glass, or art, to human organs. These shipments are labeled as “Fragile”. That typically informs the people responsible for shipping to treat this box differently, sometimes even gingerly.

As we drift through the medical system, why can‘t there be a label, a badge, a bracelet that says “Fragile, Handle With Care”, a way to alert the caregivers that this patient is not here for the mundane head cold or sprained ankle, but this patient is at a point in her physical health where her emotional strength is waning.

Listen, we realize that the world does not revolve around our care, but the result of being asked this question over and over again is a loss of identity, a sense of isolation, and a sense of being very, very small in this man-made jungle, inside the man-made mountain, in the middle of acres of parking, at the mercy of Lions.

I am Carole’s guide. I will not allow indignities like these to turn into the crushing weight that some people must feel as they drift through a terrain like this alone. Their sense of self must be compressed so small that they feel insignificant, unwanted, a pest like ants on the jungle floor, or worse.


Avatar of Bob Marcotte

About Bob Marcotte

WHAT ABOUT BOB?My name is Bob Marcotte, and I am a musician, photographer, author and caregiver. Unlike my other job titles, the caregiver job title came without training and with little notice. Now, it’s the job title I am most proud of.I live in California with my wife, Carole, who is still recovering from her massive surgeries. We are guarded and kept company by our two dogs and a cat, all rescued animals. After the Stanford medical miracle, perhaps Carole can be considered ‘rescued’, too.You can contact us at .ABOUT THE BOOKIf everyone's life is a book, and every day a page, then there are some days that deserve to be dog-eared. Your high school graduation, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and the day that your doctor discusses cancer with you for the first time.I wrote "You Mean, Besides the Cancer?" to vent frustration, to keep hold of my sanity, and hopefully help future caregivers. If you are a caregiver, or about to be one, this book can hopefully shortcut the learning curve that sliced me to shreds.This book is the story of my wife's cancer and our journey through the medical system that eventually led us to one of the most cutting edge, lifesaving surgeries on earth.You can buy the book on our blog or online at the usual online bookstores. The price of the e-book is $1.99. It's as low as they'd let be price it. This book was not written to make money.Our blog is

One thought on “You Mean, Besides the Cancer?

  1. Avatar of DeniseDenise

    I just love this post. The care of another is such a basic human experience but in the health care system it can seem just the opposite–inhuman. The system of health care becomes so built on the system that the personal touch (the reason the system runs) disappears.

    I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to know everyone’s story because every story deserves a captive audience.


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