I always enjoy "people watching" wherever I go. I love checking out people's hairstyles, outfits, accessories, shoes, smiles, energy, etc. I always wonder what their stories are. If they are texting someone on the phone and laughing, I always wonder who is on the other end. If they are holding hands with the person next to them, I smile wondering how long they have been together. If they are doing something odd (like picking their nose), I wonder what they do when nobody is around them!Cancer Center waiting area

But when I am sitting in any of the waiting rooms in the Froedtert Cancer Center, it is a much different experience for me. Everybody sitting around me either has cancer, thinks they have cancer and are being tested to find out, or had cancer at some point, and is there for a follow up to make sure they remain cancer free.

I watch the couples that are holding hands looking scared, and the young man who is wearing a mask, or the son pushing his mother in a wheelchair who is wearing a beautiful scarf to cover her head. When I think about their stories, I always wonder what brought them to this waiting room. It's a very emotional experience for me. I feel a connection to this group of people, differently than I do anywhere else.

I always hope that the news is good for every single one of them. I hope that if they are going through treatment, they are almost done and will soon feel better and get back to routine visits and every day life. I hope that the couple that sits there scared, gets really good news and goes home to celebrate. I always sit there thinking that none of us chose to be in the "cancer world" but here we are … sitting next to each other … waiting.

Next time I go, I'm going to try hard to focus on the fabulous shoes that the woman next to me has on, instead of the worry I have for my own results and appointment, and the worry I have for everybody else in the waiting room!

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think about when you're in the waiting room? What have you noticed about your fellow patients? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Jeanette Joseph grew up in Milwaukee within a very close family with her parents, Paul and Judy, an identical twin sister, Carolyn, her younger sister, Brenda, and younger brother, Gregory. Her father is Paul Joseph, who spent his career as our local expert meteorologist on TMJ-4 for 36 years. She was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in July 2010. After her diagnosis she had a thyroidectomy (surgery to remove her thyroid) and a round of RAI -- radioactive iodine treatment. In 2011, she went through another round of RAI treatment after it became clear that she had residual metastasized thyroid cancer in her body, but that treatment was not effective. In April 2015, she went through a left neck dissection surgery after it was identified which lymph nodes the residual cancer was "hiding" in. She is still healing from the surgery, but is hopeful that they got all of the cancer out of her body. Her identical twin sister, Carolyn Wesley was diagnosed with the same cancer within weeks of Jeanette?s diagnosis, so they've gone through this challenging journey together.

Trudy Dettmann

I will be four years cancer free in about a month. Unfortunately my daughter in law was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. After her initial diagnosis we transferred her to Froedtert Cancer care center because I had such wonderful treatment at Froedtert. So now I am back sitting in the waiting room with her. As I sit amongst a sea of people I feel as though I am there with a room full of soldiers. I sense a camaraderie with everyone here. All have fought or are in a fight against a common enemy cancer. Some of us bare the apparent scars of this terrible disease while others are just beginning the fight. There are young and old, men and women and transgender. There are gay and straight, republicans and democrats, all races and religions and of all socio-economic groups. We are all on the same battlefield here. It does not matter who you are here cancer has invaded your life. So I say a prayer for all that they have the strength to fight the battle of their life and win.

Beth Dowhen

It is a strange feeling to walk into a room and be surrounded by cancer! As a survivor (22 months today) I just want to go around the room to hug and encourage everyone. People must think I have a sympathetic face because quite often they come up to me and start sharing. One woman blurted out, "I just had a colonoscopy they took out two polyps, but that prep was awful!" Um. Okay. Maybe it's better not to know the whole story. Your idea is great, Jeanette! So, where did you find those cute shoes?