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People always say that things happen for a reason, but I don’t actually believe that. I think that things just happen, but that sometimes they happen with such incredible serendipity that it’s hard not to wonder if there is some “reason” out there. My favourite Spanish word for this is “azar” (“happenstance” in English). Anyhow, YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE what happened today.

After seeing my oncologist mid-December (the one who clearly isn’t there to give me an anatomy lesson) I had another endoscopy during which some samples were taken for a pathological study. Which I assumed was a biopsy to check for cancer (because I hadn’t been told otherwise). Well guess what? It was to check to see if I had a helicobacter pylori infection, to possibly explain why I seem to have (apparently? I was not told) chronic atrophic gastritis. News to me!

Then about ten days ago I received a call out of the blue from the hospital to set up an appointment for an “opaque enema”. This call came late on a Friday afternoon and the test was to be the following Monday. And I was like… WTF?… because nobody had informed me that I had to have this test or, more importantly, WHY. So I had to tell them I couldn’t do the test that Monday because 1) it was late Friday afternoon 2) the test requires a three-day special diet and 3) I didn’t have the dread “evacuation” stuff (same as for a colonoscopy) and there was no time to get to the hospital to pick it up that day. So the test was moved forward to January 23, two days after my next oncology appointment. Which was today.

Happily my friends Claudia & Paul were ready, willing and able to come with me, the most important part (aside from their lovely company) being to have a bilingual friend at my side to help with any “communication difficulties”. And that was Claudia. After about an hour in the waiting room we finally got in to see the oncologist, who politely asked if we could wait a bit while she finished up her report on the previous patient. No problem. And then the door opened and a woman walked in, stopped dead in her tracks and stared at me…

For my part I was thinking… why is this woman STARING at me like that?? And finally she spoke. “I know this person!” she said to my onc, and kept staring at me. Really, I mean I know I am always running into people I can’t remember, but this was so intense, and I finally asked this woman if she worked at the hospital. “Not any more!” she said, and then she finally told me her name. And OMG it was the amazing Dr Ana C! Looking like a totally different person. The oncologist who pretty much saved my heart and soul years ago when I was floundering, not able to get straight answers from the other doctors, not feeling that anyone was taking me seriously. Well, she did. She took time to listen to me. She answered ALL my questions. And she got me through all those horrible months on chemo, making me feel like I was a human being, not just another “case”.

And I mean… what were the fucking odds that Ana C would walk into my oncologist’s office during my consultation? And the most wonderful thing… Dr Ana saying to my onc… “don’t you know who this is?”… and then going on to talk about how amazing my website was, how I did gastronomy tours, blah blah… and me telling Ana how I’m now a Sherry Educator too… and me giving my card to my new onc… and Ana saying she was going to call me because she thought I’d be interested in a project she has going on… and then she was gone.

But the magic had happened. For the first time with this new oncologist I felt she was looking at me like I was a person. For the first time I felt she was talking to me with some real interest in me. Okay, she still dodged a couple of questions, and I forgot to ask a couple, but along with Claudia’s help it was the most positive experience I’ve had so far. I now know why I am having the dread “opaque enema” on Thursday, and yeah, it’s a bit scary, what they are looking for. But I deal so much better knowing any reality than having a doctor decide what is best for me to know. And so I hope this is the beginning of a much better relationship with my oncologist. I mean, it’s only my life in her hands…