Ever since August 2000, when we learned that my husband Don had cancer, we've been busy with treatment schedules, lab visits, doctors' appointments and coping with the ever present symptoms that Don bravely endures. I confess to weakness every once in awhile and I play the self-proclaimed martyr as if I were the only one in pain and suffering. If awards were given out for Martyr Dumbness, I would certainly win Top Honors.

For example, the very first day we were enroute to the Cancer Treatment Center, we had an auto accident. Nobody was hurt, but my Lumina sustained much damage and had to be repaired. Don didn't know he wasn't supposed to be driving, at least at the beginning of his treatments. Later, during examination by the radiation oncologist, Don was advised to let me be the designated driver at least for a month or so.

Thereafter... I kept telling Don, "PaPa, I don't like your Toyota. My Lumina has controls in the steering wheel and I just hate having to manipulate your controls in center between the two front seats."

Looking back, I feel sorry for Don as he listened to our daily 20 minute laments on trips to and from the treatment center. He never complained. One morning while I waited in a small alcove for Don to finish yet another radiation blast, a woman entered the waiting room and reached for a Kleenex from box on nearby table. She had tears in her eyes and I asked, "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

The woman fell into my arms with wrenching sobs. She held onto me for a few minutes and then explained about her husband's brain cancer. "We have no more hope left." Unsure of what to say with comfort I whispered, "Guess you're the driver these days?" She stopped crying, looked at me and said, "Oh, no, I don't know how to drive. We live about fifty miles away and we have to hire transportation. All of my family is in Japan and it's so hard."

On the way home, I did not complain about center controls in the Toyota. After Don and I had our lunch and our naps, I hugged him and confessed about the lesson I learned from that woman. I added, "PaPa I love you and I love your Toyota even more." He grinned and replied, "I told you once the Toyota is a good car. But, you can't have it. Besides, your car will be ready soon anyway." I'll really try to avoid those martyr dramatics in the future. Maybe I ought to look for better roles?

Copyright © 2000 Mary Ann Herman