Finding Heroes Inside Oncology Waiting Centers

Dear Reader:

Yesterday morning was my CT Chest Scan appointment so I left early in case traffic was heavy on Ladson Road and Highway 78. But to my delight I felt like I was only one of a handful of travelers and then it dawned on me that it was President’s Day….no school, thus no buses, and different jobs had the day off.

Doesn’t it always seem to be one receptionist in a large office that exudes sunshine and happiness no matter the time or weather or stressful situation going on. This is the person who goes out of their way to make you feel special.

In the N. Charleston Oncology Center it is Phyllis. I always “shoot” her with kisses from my fingers and she “shoots” back with hearts. If Phyllis is absent there is a noticeable pall in the office waiting room. Not to say the other receptionists aren’t nice…but there seems to be a lot of  in/out movement/ instability with most of them.

As soon as I learn their names and start to make friends they are gone and someone else has taken their place…apparently there is a lot to learn so the new ones have to focus on the steps needed to check another patient in which apparently leaves no time for friendly banter.

I always try to dress “up” for appointments…particularly wearing something bright and cheery. I put a smile on my face before I walk in because I know (as a fellow wait-er) that I appreciate seeing patients who strive to brighten things up a bit.

There is always such a diversity of patients waiting to be called back, as well as, personalities. Some patients are gregarious and usually have a friend or a helper with them. Others look withdrawn and refuse to make eye contact….looking like they wish they could be swallowed up by a “rabbit hole.”

I smile and try to make some type of positive comment to whomever I am sitting next to…and sometimes it is reciprocated and I have a new friend before being called back. Other times the body language of someone next to me is letting me know that they wish to be left alone and I certainly respect their wishes.

It is amazing to me however, that the patients who do smile and make a small joke at the window or share a laugh does give some others hope and you see a small smile tugging at their face.

The reality is…for some patients this might be their last patient visit, for others, a different location for newly required treatments it taking them elsewhere….an oncology waiting room is like a train platform with people boarding and un-boarding daily.

So Phyllis and my “med gals” who order my medicine and always come out to greet me when I arrive to pick it up…thank you for making me feel special and loved…whenever I show up for whatever reason.

And Dr. Jeter (title photo)…thank you always for your patience and compassion… for taking time to share everyday stories of your adorable children growing up with me so we can swap children/grandchildren stories. We always find time for that…thank you!

So until tomorrow…Courage abounds in many forms in an Oncology Center….For me prayers abound as I pray God holds each person’s Hand and guides them through the complex world of cancer through hope and love.

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

The Turners arrived home yesterday and the grandchildren were anxious to open all their Valentines cards (they left Valentines Day to head to Disney) thus missing the school activities.



About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to Finding Heroes Inside Oncology Waiting Centers

  1. Rachel Edwards says:

    Becky…you amaze me by your cheerful spirit…steadfast faith and absolutely the best outlook on life. I have bern with you twice to tsee doctors or technicians there and when you walk in there is a ray of sunshine. You touch people’s lives more than you will ever know. Love you.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      You are too kind but I feed off others too…oncology waiting rooms are symbiotic at best…each helping another through rough times consciously or unconsciously…there are so many patients who desperately need a smile, a pat…any show of human compassion is so appreciated by the simple fact that we are humans and humans need each other!


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