Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Secret Handshake

Had an interesting experience today.

Rather than going downtown to The Big Medical Clinic where Little Warrior gets her care, I was able to just go 10 minutes away to a pedi office, since all she needed was to get blood drawn.

While I was signing in and talking to the receptionist, there was a pharmaceutical salesman standing there. You know the type -- very polished, very manly.

"I couldn't help overhearing," says he. "I have a child being treated at The Big Medical Center, but you can get the blood draws done here?"

Yep, says I, then ask him what his child is being treated for.

He gives me the little wave-off that I know I have given others not in the Childhood Cancer World and says, "Oh, it's this rare thing called rhabdomyosarcoma."

I point to Little Warrior. "Wilms Tumor."

I remember hearing about how Masons supposedly have some secret "sign" they can give each other. It has been mythologized in stories such as how Sam Houston and Santa Anna met up and gave each other "the sign," and thus didn't kill each other.

We had given each other "the sign." As soon as I said "tumor," he knew that we were in the same club. The club that no one wants to join, but once you're in, you're in. So, we began chatting, exchanging when our children were diagnosed, finding out that we knew some of the same doctors (both are categorized as "solid tumors" which affects which doctors you see), etc.

He looked at Little Warrior. And cried. This big ole polished, manly guy. I figured it was because his son was diagnosed more recently than LW. And with a condition considered to be more serious than Wilms. But explained himself. "I can handle it, my son having this. But seeing other kids with it. Your baby ..."

So, we each had insight for the other. Mine was simple -- he now knows that he can get blood draws out by his house, a highly useful bit of info. His was deeper. I have been a bit surprised at the clinic that the other moms (it's almost always mothers, not fathers) weren't friendlier. I'd seen some chat with others, but not with me. I found this odd, since I'm usually the type that complete strangers come up and chat with in the grocery store. I finally figured that maybe it was because they've seen me breastfeeding my baby. Hey, nothing else made sense!

Except this ... perhaps, even for the moms whose children have cancer, seeing a baby with cancer is just a little too much. A little too raw.

I don't know. But I feel a bit more kind about it, so I guess that's all that matters.


Anne said...

There is something abuot manly men crying..

And I do agree with you as to why people are so stand offish. Everytime I really think about LW it just affects me. I mean..what I deal with is horrible and I can rant and rave all day..but the one thing that will stop me in my tracks is thinking about LW doing the same thing. It just seems so wrong.

Sam said...

I agree with Anne (as always). It is like you have the trump card in pain.