Swag bags?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

“What, no gift bag?” Paul looks at me with a puzzled expression.  The Hematologist has just informed us that, yes, Paul has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and that he will need at least 8 rounds of chemo and then a few more weeks/months of either radiation or a newly approved drug called BinTuxaMab or something like that. I don’t know why, but I keep waiting for her to hand him a gift bag or swag bag filled with goodies to go along with the news.  You know like “hey, you have cancer, but here’s a really cool gift bag to make it easier on you”.  I imagine it filled with specially approved items that are super helpful to cancer victims.  Victims? Contestants? Celebrities? 

At the Oscars, celebrities are given Swag bags.  It’s a special enticement or treat or bribe to make the celebrity feel better, look better, and be more excited about being there.  Shouldn’t there be such a thing for cancer patients?  I mean if there was ever a time to cheer someone up or at the very least distract them from their impending medical adventure, wasn’t this that time?

On the television show Survivor, there aren’t gift bags, but there are prizes.  Be the first person to eat a bug, get a prize.  Complete the puzzle, get a prize.  Swim out to the platform and back first, get a prize.  Who sponsors those prizes?  How about take your cancer medicine like a champ, get a prize?

Paul nods at me and smiles.  It’s been a crazy month since finding the lump on Christmas Day.  Now we are hearing the word that no one wants to hear and everyone fears.  Cancer.

And here I am thinking, swag bag.  It could be filled with cancer approved items (cause I imagine there are such things) like special mouth wash and tooth paste, and yummy treats that are easy on the tummy.  Gin-Gin’s and chamomile tea.  Maybe a soft warm hat for the upcoming bald days, and why not a few face masks (maybe with silly drawings on them like fangs or big red lips) to keep other people’s nasty germs away while your immune system is being pummeled.  The bag could include a meditation CD, some vitamin C drops, a nice smelling candle, and some lip balm.  Also a little book of positive affirmations and a gift certificate to a take-out place.  Oh and a parking pass to the Mayo Clinic parking garage (now we are talking).  The bag could be useful too! It could be shaped like a messenger bag or a back-pack to contain all the info they give you at each appointment.  

It might be an unusual thought, but If on a particular day your world is altered in a profound way, then at the very least, shouldn’t there be a swag bag?

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