The young man standing at the elevator doors had the poorly masked look of apprehension one comes to expect at a cancer center. I had just arrived for physical rehab and as I greeted him, I thought he might be starting treatment and was afraid - as we all were the very first time. He seemed so young.
“How are you,” I asked as the elevator arrived.
“I’m here to take my mom for her first day of chemo.” The words blurted out as though they had stacked up behind his teeth and finally escaped.
“That’s wonderful of you,” I responded. “I know it means a lot to her.”
“I’ve just come home,” he stammered, “. . . from Iraq. I was gone nearly four years. My mom worried about me every day while I was over there. Now it’s my turn to take care of her.”
I thanked him for his service to our country and for supporting his mother. Then, too quickly, I arrived at my floor. I left reluctantly because I wanted to encourage him in some way, yet I knew that the young man who had survived the horrors of war had become the caring, loving son that his mother needed.
There are extensive medical treatments for cancer, every imaginable means and method of fighting the disease. However, the best medicine of all is the love and support of family and friends.
Chemotherapy can be long and difficult, and the outcome uncertain. Consequently, many patients quit before they finish what may be their best chance to prolong their life. But for some, it is the tender moment between mother and son, husband and wife, friend and friend that fills the reservoir of hope that moves the journey forward.
To one young soldier, there is no greater honor.