There was a doctor in the hospital in Hong Kong I met with only once; he was the resident neurooncologist (brain cancer doc, the equivalent of my current Doctor Who) and he came to see me in my hospital room just out of courtesy to answer some questions I had raised about the treatments I would be doing once I returned to the States.
He was a short, handsome man with a neat beard, black rimmed glasses and an owlish face (if only his name could have been Doctor Who!), and he had this wonderful proper English accent with sprinkles of un-posh regionalisms that betrayed both his schooling and the guys he probably hung around with at uni in England. I liked him immediately because of this– here was a guy who cared about curing cancer of the brain but who also cared about just being a regular guy. A good combination, I think.
I said I met with him only once, which is true, but when I was leaving the hospital on my very last day I happened to see him waiting by the elevator I was about to take down. I was thrilled, because even though I had only seen him that once, I’d wanted to thank him and say goodbye to him. But he was speaking on his cell phone as we both entered the elevator, and I was probably disappointed but also relieved that I didn’t have to bother him and think of something intelligent to say that would take up a whole elevator ride. He recognized me and nodded with a smile.
I listened to him chatting on his phone in Cantonese as the elevator went down, and when it stopped on his floor something happened that I’ll never forget– something that I can’t believe how many times I’ve thought of since that moment.
The elevator doors opened, he closed his cell phone, put it in his pocket, and as he walked out he turned back and looked at me and said one thing:
“Good luck, mate.”
He smiled and gave a confident nod, and the doors closed and that’s the last time I saw him.
I can’t tell you how much that tiny little gesture meant to me. How much hope it gave me. How it was exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right moment. I really trusted this guy, I really respected him, and he knew way more than I did about my Chance, my chances, and the terrifying gauntlet of treatments I had ahead of me. But his face showed me only confidence, and kindness. I’ve never been wished good luck and had it mean anything. But this time it meant everything.
So thank you, Owl-Faced Doctor With Cool Accent Who Gave Me Hope.
And thank you, my wonderful parents, for being the fountain from which this wonderful life sprung, this life I’ve been so fortune to live, this life I’ve enjoyed so much and hope to be lucky enough to continue for a long time to come. Thank you for being the rock that has always supported and guided me even when I thought I was far off on my own.
And thank you to my sister, for being my big sister when I needed it most, suddenly and very unexpectedly, at the age of 36.
Thank you to everyone who didn’t know what to say or ask but thought of something anyway, because there never is a right or wrong thing to say. The fact that you’re there and that you care and that you’re trying is enough. It’s not just enough– it’s everything. The support of my friends and my family and the people I haven’t even met or haven’t seen in 15 years– it means everything. I utterly absolutely can not imagine having to go through this without that unspeakably wonderful cushion of love and hope that you have given me. All those times you wonder if it really means anything when you say things to people like “good luck” or “it’ll be fine” or “you’re gonna do great!” — I can tell you from a very intense host of recent first hand experiences that it means the goddamn world.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me, whether it was helping me make my neurosurgeons laugh up or bringing me dumplings in the ICU or running errands or giving me rides or delivering flowers or yummy meals to my house when I could barely peel my face off the floor. Or just keeping me company. Thank you so much for keeping me company.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Piece of Mind fund, I can’t even tell you how much it is helping to reduce the anxiety and stress and burden of keeping my life afloat while I am simultaneously trying to keep my actual life afloat.
Thank you all for being patient with me when I couldn’t or just didn’t want to answer the same questions over and over again. On that note, thank you for reading this blog.
And if you are reading this blog (or even if you’re not but should be ; ) thank you for being the bulk of the light and the wonder and the laughter and the beauty in this staggering, joyous life that I am trying very hard to hold on to.
I’ve always thought that the world is a mind-bogglingly beautiful place, but you’ve all gone and shown me that, all this time, it was five to seven times more mind-boggly than I even realized.
This whole time, before I even knew it, before I even knew I needed it, you’ve been there for me.
Thank you for that. For everything. I love you all.