I was diagnosed at 34 years old in May 2019 with breast cancer. I’m from North Bay Ontario Canada, which is commonly referred to as Northern Ontario because it’s north of Toronto. lol.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, my oncologist really pushed the idea of seeing a social worker because she figured it would help me mentally to have someone to chat with. I agreed!
I was diagnosed on May 1, 2019, my first chemo was May 17, my second chemo was May 31, and I was scheduled to see my counsellor for the first time on June 5.
After going through chemo the first time, I knew a five-day recovery might be pushing it because my chemo brain was pretty wicked for about 10 days after each chemo, but the cancer centre didn’t really agree with me when they booked it so I thought whatevs I’ll go anyway.
I need to preface this experience by explaining that the cancer centre I go to is not the same place I went for chemo. It’s in a different city but my city does have a chemo room so I was quite comfortable with the local hospital but NOT the cancer centre.
Anyway, the morning of the big day came and I felt like complete crap. I knew I would but I pressed on anyway. My mom was driving so I could just relax. We made the two-hour trek to the cancer centre and, of course, there was no parking (this has become the bane of my existence in the months following) so my mom dropped me off at the front doors and I told her I’d meet her at the social worker area. I went to the volunteer reception desk to ask for direction and the lady ignored me to help two older gentlemen for five minutes and then finally pointed in the direction of the elevators and said “second floor.”
Now at this point, it would have been SUPER helpful of her to mention we weren’t on the first floor but actually floor zero and that there was a floor 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b and you get the idea. My anxiety was at a 10 and my chemo brain was even worse but off to the elevator I went.
To make a long story short, I got very lost because I pressed 2a, assuming that was the second floor, and ended up in the actual hospital attached to the cancer centre. I walked for a good few minutes before realizing I wasn’t where I needed to be and then, panicking, I backtracked to the elevator and pressed 1a, thinking it would bring me back to the front desk but NOPE. I stepped off the elevator into another strange hallway and had a complete mental breakdown until some nice nurse rescued me and brought me to my mom, who was nicely tucked in the social worker office on that same floor.
I asked her “HOW DID YOU GET HERE SO QUICKLY AND EASILY?!” To which she replied “oh a volunteer explained in detail exactly how to get here”.
In the moment, it wasn’t funny. I cried a lot and never went back for counselling. But looking back, my mom and I laugh all the time because we realized that at this cancer centre the senior without cancer gets treated better than the young adult with cancer (which was abundantly clear because I was bald and in a headscarf by this point).
After I was done with that appointment I rewarded myself with Arby’s and an Ativan and it’s become an ongoing joke between us ever since.
Every time I go to the cancer centre it’s a confusing mess and I get little to no guidance because I think I look like I can do it myself. But jokes on them, I can’t.