On a weekly basis I visit the UofM's Masonic Cancer Clinic to at the very least have my labs taken, and on a less regular basis to meet with my Oncologist and get MRI's. It's a recently opened clinic that in some ways reminds you of an Apple store, even though they foolishly use the Microsoft Surface. With walls of windows, and bright white painted surfaces that reflect the light, it is a welcoming space. If you have to regularly visit a clinic this is the kind you want.
When you check in you are given the unofficial MCC brand which is the Care Connect Badge. It is a pretty cool device helping nurses find you and allowing them to look up your charts before getting you. That is, however, where the coolness ends.
See, while it is helpful to know who your brothers and sisters are, it's not something you want to see them wearing. It's a badge that no one should have to wear. I recall a recent visit where I chatted with a family whose college-aged daughter was donning the badge. I mean I know I am young, but I at least got to meet someone and start an amazing family with her. This young woman may never get to experience those things, and that just breaks my heart.
The waiting rooms at the clinic in themselves are heartbreaking, providing you with a range of emotions and a room full of comrades that are in various states of wellness. You see the worried faces of new patients, the tired faces of those that come in to often, and the angry faces of those that have yet to come to terms with their or their loved one's diagnosis. And then, as you often do, you connect eyes with someone that is handling it well. You find yourself gravitating towards them, and if bold enough you strike up a conversation hoping to get a dose of what they got.
When your name is called you leave the beautiful yet conflicted waiting room and are escorted into a clinical lab or doctor's room that while very sterile has a touch of warmth. With the clicks of a few buttons, the spelling of your last name, and the reciting of your birthday, you get to work. The nurse's and doctor's speak in very clear terms, but with more than a touch of kindness. See, because just like you don't want to see others with the green badge, they honestly don't want to see you. My Oncologist cares deeply for me and my family, but I can guarantee that she would rather not have had to meet me.
Once my visit is complete I walk down a long staircase and head to the valet, and as I do I drop off that little green badge into the dropbox that kindly reminds you it isn't a garbage can. I pay my valet fee, wait for my car, thank and tip the driver, and then head home to be with those I love. And while I wish I didn't have to wear that badge, and visit that clinic, I am glad that it is full of people that care.