The Birthday Tradition

Blanca showed me this new beauty. It's a bell patients ring three times when they complete their treatments. Everyone stops what they're doing and come out to applaud. I thought it was a great way to mark not only the ending of something, but more importantly the beginning of something.

Blanca showed me this new beauty. It’s a bell patients ring three times when they complete their treatments. Everyone stops what they’re doing and come out to applaud. I thought it was a great way to mark not only the ending of something, but more importantly the beginning of something.

I always approach the Creticos Cancer Center with great reverence. For all the caring work that is done there by the nurses and staff. And all the courage shown by the patients who are treated there, as well as their families. Though it’s now housed in a brand new state-of-the-art building across the hospital campus from the one Ken received treatment in, it’s still feel like a home — of sorts — to me because so many of the same smiling faces greet me when visit.

Per my annual tradition, I made cupcakes in celebration of Ken’s birthday and a thank you to the nursing staff, most specifically, Blanca, Kenny’s girlfriend. (I’ll make another delivery the week before Christmas.)

Cupcakes and a thank you note.

Cupcakes and a thank you note.

I’m always hesitant to take up too much of their time. I know what valuable work they do, and how much the patients receiving chemotherapy need them. But after a hug from Blanca it’s impossible to decline an offer to have a seat and catch up a bit.

I feel a connection to them. Maybe to the place. But definitely to the work they do. There is something about going there. Of my own free will. Not having to go there. To reward these amazing women for the tireless work they perform day in and day out. And to let them know they are appreciated. Ken appreciated them. And I still do. For both of us.

Milk chocolate cupcakes with caramel frosting, dusted with flaked sea salt. A Ken favorite.

Milk chocolate cupcakes with caramel frosting, dusted with flaked sea salt. A Ken favorite.

As we sat around and gabbed, the pharmacist I know returned from lunch and was excited to see me as well as the treats I’d brought. I think she finds it a little odd that I keep coming back to see everyone. And that’s okay. But one thing she does that makes me smile is she refers to Ken as “Ron”. So, she thinks I’m Ken. It’s happened every time I’ve seen her. I love it. For me, I’m not sure there is a higher compliment.

It was a slow day in the Infusion Room, and it made me happy. Not just because it gave me time to talk to Blanca and the others. But seeing empty chairs made me happy that people didn’t need chemo. Not terribly rational, but a full ward makes me a little sad.

After a good catch up session and seeing all the faces I’d hoped to see, I headed home. And, much like I approach the cancer center with great reverence, I always leave there with a lump in my throat, welled up eyes, but a smile on my face.


Originally published at the xanax diary.