Since Kate was diagnosed with cancer in October, I have had the opportunity to meet a number of interesting people who give meaning to the old saw that you've got nothing if you don't have your health.
When Kate went for her MRI I met a man who retired from his job with the City of Ottawa. In his retirement he became an avid golfer, but a mysterious back problem developed and kept him off the links. An interesting man. He also volunteered for a number of years at the hospital, and in his youth worked at some of the casinos in Vegas.
Another man I met during that MRI appointment was a fifty-something construction worker who drove his van over a culvert on a country road. The van rolled several times and his construction tools were flying all around the van. Miraculously, none hit him. He was able to walk away from the wreck, but found a few days later that he had hurt his back. Work was important to this guy. He figured he would work until he died because he wouldn't know what to do with his time if he didn't have his job. Sadly, he hadn't worked in 5 months and, while recognizing he was lucky to be alive, he faced an uncertain future. His other passion was cycling and he was unsure if he'd ever be able to get on a bike again.
Once, while at chemo, I saw a guy in another bed reading a woodworking magazine. Being a novice woodworker myself, I went over and started up a conversation. He grew up in Nova Scotia, trained to be a millwright in Alberta, and lived in Ottawa for the last 20 years before cancer struck. He was a handy guy who enjoyed renovating houses. In fact, he had been doing some work on the roof of his house and his hands were stained black. He joked he was going to come into chemo and ask if this was a normal reaction to the chemo he had last week. We didn't talk about his cancer, but clearly, it hadn't slowed him down.
I also met a woman who had been diagnosed about a year previously with Stage IV colon cancer. She was alive and doing well. She was part of a clinical trial and she appeared to have no visible tumours after a year of treatment. I especially like meeting people like her. An absolutely positive personality who beat the odds. A living representation of hope.
My mother was a chatter. She enjoyed starting conversations with people she didn't know. This is a trait she passed on to me. I find people very interesting. I am convinced that every person I meet has a compelling story to tell, even if they don't recognize it. After completing my BA in Economics, I had applied to the University of Western Ontario's MA in Journalism program, but wasn't accepted. I think I would have enjoyed the profession, because the job is about nothing if not chasing people's stories.
I will continue to relate some stories of the people I meet in this blog, so stay tuned.