Another one of the marvels of this cancer journey is the actual travels we take. As often as we can, we prefer to ride the shuttle bus that is offered as a “free service” by our apartment complex for residences. Since we are less than 2 miles from the Texas Medical Center District, most, if not all of the riders of our shuttle bus have some connection to one of the hospitals or medical clinics. Patients like us as well as a variety of health care professionals and students can be found riding the shuttles everyday.
This is a somewhat unique experience for us. The last time we rode buses for any period of time was when we were in junior high school riding the bus everyday to and from school. Now living in a large city is the real difference maker. Mass transit was always been a term associated with strange places like New York City or Chicago. So for us, riding the shuttle back and forth to MD Anderson has been an interesting experience. First of all it beats driving our own car and then having to park. Parking is only available in the medical district in large, pay lots and garages. The garages near or attached to MD Anderson cost $12 per day with a $5 minimum. So if you will be there any significant length of time, $12 per day gets expensive. So it just makes more sense to ride the free shuttle.
Secondly, the wear and tear on your vehicle, not to mention on your mental state, can get to be difficult when you have to fight the local Houston traffic. The shuttle drivers handle this task so easily. Finally, the most interesting part of riding the shuttle is the people we encounter. This journey is not just a brief hop to and from treatment. It is a trip of shared experiences, new mutual friendships and complete strangers placed into brief encounters with each other.
Yesterday, we witnessed such a moment of kindness by our driver. One of the passengers was a young woman, medical student who apparently rides the shuttle daily. The driver knew her name and even knew some personal things about her. On this day the student needed to stop at a different building in the middle of a busy block to meet one of her advisors. She told the driver she would get off at a nearby stop and walk across the street to her destination. The driver insisted she not try to cross the street in the middle of a block so she took her to the nearest intersection of the building’s location not even on our bus route. She told the student “I don’t want your momma calling me from Chicago about you getting hurt on my bus route”. This was such a sweet thing to hear and see. Two people from completely different worlds being so nicely connected, if ever so briefly.
Maybe this is what my cancer journey is really all about. I travel to get treatment for an incurable disease hoping to live longer and find even greater cures along the way. Healing is more than what meets the eye. It is the precious moments of life’s journey that gives us cause to pause and reflect on what life is all about, in the first place.
So far my new medication is helping. I have not experienced any significant poor side affects. My lab tests are improving sooner than we had expected. If things continue like this we may be able to go back home to Mississippi in a few weeks. We will continue on this course of medication and close testing until November 10th. Then we hope the medical team will allow me to continue taking the trial medication from home.