Dr. Weary’s office is crowded and a bit shabby. His nurse weighs me, takes my blood pressure and draws several vials of blood. The work area is cramped and cluttered. Staff bumps into each other as they reach for needles, gauze, and other paraphernalia. I walk towards my meeting with Dr. Weary himself  through a narrow hallway which is lined with a long row of vinyl chairs. Each is equipped with a rod from which the dreaded chemo bottle will hang (or does chemo come in bags?) I shudder.

Dr. Weary runs late, but quickly pulls his chair up to the desk. He is fiftyish, speaks with a slight Southern drawl. He has kind brown eyes, and smiles easily, but looks a bit tired.

In front of him, on the desk, is a file and a brochure entitled “Shared Decision Making Chart.”  I notice that it has the same adjuvant statistical grahps as  Dr. Guru’s, except these bars are in full color. Dr. Weary’s assessment is different too:  My improved survival with chemo is not one in a hundred, but four in a hundred. I feel my hands start to tremble and get clammy.

“How can that be?” I ask. (I should be delighted that it is four in a hundred not forty, but I am focused on disaster. I am so petrified of the chemo that I have also completely lost sight of its purpose.)

“Well, Guru based his on first generation chemo, ” he says. Now we have a much more effective therapy. We give six rounds, not four, and we give it every three weeks.

“We give cytoxan/adriamyacin/5FOX in six cycles. Your beautiful hair, ” Dr. Weary looks up to glance at my head, “will be gone, of course. With Andriamycin the hair falls out after the first cycle, but it ALL comes back,” he assures me.

I want to joke that the hair is more Van Michael’s than my own, but I am too shocked at the thought of chemo, and I try hard not to get weepy.

I have been so prepared to skip the chemo poisons. But  the issue again looms before me, like some growling, nasty pit bulldog in my path.

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