I guess I have already made pretty plain the fundamental difference between the two classes of people one finds in Cancerland, those who walk as if in leg-irons, and the brisk high-steppers. The flat-foot shufflers are the folk who don’t rightly understand how they came to be here in the first place. They went through a doorway healthy, had some test results slapped on their backs, and came out the very same doorway sick. The brisk high-steppers, on the other hand, are people who have actually set their caps on coming to Cancerland, submitting to years of training and schooling in order to make that dream of theirs come true.
You’d think that, given such very different trajectories, the shufflers and the high-steppers might not get along awfully well. After all, what must someone condemned to Cancerland think of someone who very much wants to be there? And yet, the dragooned and the volunteers have quite a good symbiosis, with the former needing and benefitting from what the latter have trained so long to be able to provide, and the latter grateful to have the former to use their skills on. Obviously enough, the wielder of the needle needs the forearm of the afflicted and vice versa.
So the Cancerland arrangement is a pretty neat one, all in all.
Of course, there are stresses too.
The dragooned are sometimes not as cooperative as volunteers would like them to be, and volunteers are sometimes rather more, ah, intent than seems necessary to the dragooned.
The other day, for instance, to my chagrin, a substitute volunteer assigned to me revealed herself to be that most dreaded of all things, a speaker aloud of whatever she is thinking.
First now I am doing the hydration — yes, I know — and then comes the atropine — yes, I know — which is an anti-nausea medication — yes, I know — after which — yes, I know….
After which, out of the blue, fairly beaming at me, she said, Of course, the main thing is to keep your spirits up.
Strange to say, up until that very moment, my spirits had been fine.
Symbiosis is a tricky business.