When I was in treatment, I was always so grateful that I had support. My family and my friends insisted on joining me and it made the time easier to manage. When I was told that chemo would be part of my treatment, I was devastated. My tumor was just 1 cm and only one lymph node tested positive for cancer. Chemo was the protocol for me. The nurse offered to take me up to the chemo treatment area prior to my appointment – I declined.

I really wish I had taken the nurse up on her offer. When my husband (we are separated now, thanks cancer) and I arrived, I looked at all the people in the room. People, young and old, in recliner chairs, hooked up to IV’s, sleeping, reading, and waiting. I began to cry, I did not want to be there, in the open, hooked up and having cancer. I did not want to have cancer.

The nurses were caring. They were so busy, so many people having treatment. It is hard to understand how many people are affected by cancer until you actually see it in real time. Of course, we all know “someone touched by cancer”, but to actually live it is shocking. Why does this disease continue to steal people we love away from us?

I would often notice the people sitting by themselves. Did they arrive alone? Did they have family or friends that could sit with them? It made me sad, but not everyone has someone. Not everyone has time they can take off from work or family commitments they can leave to sit with their loved one. I was lucky.

Every three weeks I returned, feeling a bit more settled. I became a regular. I knew nurses by name. I enjoyed getting a warmed blanket and Peek Freans cookies, Digestives. The volunteers were kind, carts full of juice and cookies. Over lunch they offered soup and crackers. I refer to Peek Freans as Cancer Cookies – they were a staple. 

I have since learned that these cookies are no longer offered – you know sugar causes cancer so it does not make sense that the oncology ward serves packaged cancer, right? (sarcasm)

These regular little acts of kindness and simple treats were part of what got me though. I saw these gestures help those around me, young and old, alone or with family. We all needed and appreciated these simple kind gestures. Understanding this would change my life. It is part of why I opened my store, The Unexpected Gift and why Kristina and A.J. and I started the Unexpected Gift Box. To help others. That’s what this is all about. 

Tara Torchia- Wells