Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center


Elizbeth Blue
Elizabeth Blue, 2010, before cancer

‘Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center’

An emotional reaction and relog of my first experience at the Arizona Cancer Center when I was sent there to have blood drawn before chemo on Friday.  Today (11.9.11) is Wednesday.  I am very swollen and can’t breathe that well.

“Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center if that’s appropriate…?”
“This is her first time here”
“Would you like entertainment? I have some singing dogs in my office.”
“I have five Chihuahuas at home.  Do you have any dogs”
“No a cat.”
“Peggy can you help me with this?”
“I have slippery veins”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Peggy is bobbing around and won’t stop trying to find different ways to look into my eyes.
They’re swelling up with tears.  ‘welcome to the Arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’  ‘This is her first time’ ‘welcome to the Arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’ ‘ This is her first time.’
Tears well up behind my swollen eyes and I hope they can pretend along with me that I’m crying cause they’ve got a needle in my arm and are moving it around hoping to poke a vein, hoping to hit time saving gold.
They will.
“I just had surgery yesterday”
“I mean the day before.  I had an IV in”
“You have one in now?”
“No they took it out, it was in my right arm.”

A woman behind a curtain is wheeled out.  She has one eye or a bandage over one eye but I can only see one eye.  She is pale and large and her arms don’t fit in her wheelchair.  I think she’s wearing maroon.  
“They destroyed my arms in the hospital” She says, to no one in particular.

“Who is your Doctor?”  Peggy asks.  
Dr. Miller
“Dr. Tom Miller”
“Oooh the best.”
Yes.  The best.

The other one brushes my hair away from my shoulder, or maybe this is before, when I first sat down.
“Such pretty hair”
“Thank you.”
It is pretty, its long and soft and just the right color of fawn brown and the way my bangs frame my face is the way it looks best and how the fuck am I supposed to live without it.
It will be gone soon.

‘Welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate.’
‘Its her first time’

“Can you hold this for me?”
I wipe a tear with make up in it.  There is blood on my finger from the gauze I was holding on my arm.

‘Welcome to the arizona cancer center.  This is her first time.’

A old woman who is also a patient asked if I liked purple earlier but I was wearing blue and said yes because she was probably an angel and even so I wasn’t that nice to her.

“What’s your cat’s name?”
I’m changing my last name to Blue to match his and maybe if I change my name the cancer will go away my mom’s girlfriend says.

“Male or female?
“Peggy can you help me, its nearby there right?” Twist twist twist needle in my arm.
“There, look its in.  Male or female?”
“What kind of cat?”
“Oh my god I used to have a bengal!  They are the best cats.
“Yes, they’re very smart”
They are.
“Well maybe she”
“can give you some comfort in this time.  You might even want to get a little treat for him or her since she will be helping you so much.”
Maybe some chicken.
“You know what my cats used to love?  I would get them a whole plant of catnip.  They loved that, I would put it in a planter, they would love that.”
“Yes, they really do love catnip”  I’m sobbing now.  There is a man asking where to go, they say he could go outside if he wanted.  
“Its too cold, its under 90 degrees.”
No really, he’s serious.
“I thought it was nice out” The nurse says quietly to me.
I would have killed killed killed brutally with an axe to get to breath this kind of air had they kept me in the hospital one more day.  Had they kept me inside I would have killed killed killed myself with the infectious danger of cold air to feel it pulsate through my lungs.
“I think its nice out today too.”
We talk more about the weather.  She’s blond from West Virginia.
“You have the good tape” When she starts to bandage my arm
How the fuck, did I learn in 5 days the different kinds of tape used to cover gauze and why they are good?
“Yes, I heard they were using it on horses for years before they even thought to use it on humans.”
“You can go now.”
“Ok. Thank you.”  Peggy is nowhere to be seen.
I don’t know if  I should say ‘thank you, I’ll see you later’ or just ‘thank you good-bye’ so I just say thank you and rush outside because I just remembered I am a feeling being and that I’m crumbling to pieces and I’m still whole inside and these people aren’t and that woman I wasn’t nice enough to in the lobby was probably an angel goddess sent by my ancestors or god and when she left she said to her husband/son ‘c’mon let’s give this youngin some privacy’ and I realized then and felt guilty.  

And I have not seen a single person here within ten years of my age except the receptionist and she smiled at me like she was going to eat me alive like a spider meal with all her fake overblown kindness and handed me a buzzer like I’m at a restaurant and wouldn’t let me go outside or do anything except offer me some coffee or tea but coffee weakens your goddamn immune system bitch and I’m trying to strengthen mine because I’m going to have chemo soon and that’s why I’m quitting smoking, duh, to strengthen my immune system and that’s why I’m not getting my gorgeous tattoo worked on that my mom thinks may have caused the cancer.  All because one of my doctors (Dr. Brown) who I like and trust as much as you can like and trust a person you have talked to for maybe an hour total and only met twice and along with her ‘presiding, Dr. Miller (the best)’ she is supposed to save my life.  I’m doing all these things to boost my immune system because she says they will help me to not get an infection during chemo and therefore will stay alive.

And I’m sitting here writing this in my slutty halter top dress with my bleached out jean jacket and cowboy boots and cheap sunglasses and runny make up and you could see my bandage covering the cut from the biopsy if I removed my jacket but that’s fine.  I’m sitting here dressed like this because its how I always dress so fuck you.  And I’m sitting here with make up dried up and down my face waiting waiting waiting until its time to go to a different hospital and get my heart checked to see if it can withstand chemo (they think it can).  And I’m writing because I realized that’s what Mehron and Ava and I would all do in that situation and that this is a part of me now and I am a writer and I will write it all.  

And because I remembered that I am a whole living, breathing, feeling, animal, being.  
And that I am sensitive to emotions and things and one eyed people and needles and surgery around and in me.  And that this place is crazy and maybe I’m not so I need to relay it to you all.
And also because the difference between the visionary and the crazy person is that the visionary comes back.  I’m trying to remember this.
As I sit on this beautiful day in the garden of the

‘welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate?’
No, its not.
‘its her fist time’

‘welcome to the arizona cancer center, if that’s appropriate?
No its not.
‘She has a cat.’

‘welcome to the arizona caner center, if that’s appropriate?’
‘Its her first time’
No its not.

‘if that’s appropriate?’
‘If that’s appropriate…?’
‘If that’s appropriate.’
‘if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate if that’s appropriate.

No its not.

“Welcome to the Arizona Cancer Center!”
“No its not.”

~Elizabeth Blue ©

Lucia Maya

I live and write in Makawao, on Maui, Hawaii. I write on my blog about my experience with my daughter Elizabeth Blue, during the last year of her life living with cancer and dying in a state of grace. I follow my passion in my work, doing Energy Healing (Reiki, Karuna Reiki and Craniosacral work) and spiritual counseling, in person and at a distance, teaching Reiki and facilitating spiritual workshops. I have a blog on my LuminousAdventures.com site as well!

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