Reflections from the waiting room

by | Dec 28, 2023 | Cancer

For all those living with cancer or the possibility of its return…

I’m awaiting the results of my final annual cancer check-up and I sense myself slipping into my mind’s waiting room, the space between ‘got cancer’ and ‘haven’t got cancer’, my earthly purgatory.


For me, waiting is powerlessness because I’m at the mercy of something beyond my control, some possible mishap of genetics and environment. I become the subject in the sentence, the thing being done to with CT scanner and cannular yielding up bodily secrets.

I prepare for this waiting time by suspending the stuff of everyday. No large purchases (I might need funds for other priorities). No plans involving overseas travel.

But in defiance of the powerlessness, I try to make this a rich space full of adventure and contemplation, most of it imperceptible to others because it is exclusively interior. Waiting invites introspection, reprioritisation, impatience with things that really don’t matter.


I’m grateful that I’m in the waiting room at the start of the year – Janus – a season that looks both ways, at the year just gone and the year to come.  Even in the midst of a potentially catastrophic result, there is still possibility and growth, a new way to be with whatever life has in store. The annual check-up is a deep dive into dread. But I will resurface with fresh determination to be fully alive to all my experience.

*I counsel people who are living with the diagnosis of a life-threatening or limiting illness.













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