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Emails to my Therapist

View From the Cancer Radiation Waiting Room

Dear Nicholas, I’m staying busy typing here in one of the cancer radiation waiting rooms in Duke’s Raleigh hospital, while Bob finishes  with his second treatment for his second round of prostate cancer.

We are assured by all his doctors that he will be fine.


The view from here … well, it’s not Paris or the beach. It’s very quiet in these rooms, the medical folks are warm and attentive, the machinery is life-saving and no doubt potentially lethal as well.

And special care has been taken to make the entrance to the place welcoming: a cheery mural, a gazebo, reserved parking, lovely plantings.

It’s all attention-getting. A bit more so, the second time around.


I was very upset about the recurrence the night after we found out the cancer was back. Then just wrung out. And then accustomed to the situation again.

People say that a threat like cancer puts other things in perspective: makes them seem less important. A friend who’s had horrendous health problems recently said that nothing but health matters, “everything else is incidental.”

Fresh Perspective? So Far, No

But I find that the rest of life still does matter to us. I’m still passionately working at getting word out about my new book (My Life On Earth And Elsewhere, should you be interested) and Bob is still deeply involved in his work. We go straight from radiation to his psychotherapy office two blocks from the hospital where I’ll sit with my laptop in the waiting room as he sees patients upstairs. We still pay attention to the rest of life, the good things and the irritating ones.

Second Time Around

He does seem to be taking the cancer a bit more seriously this time, though. Last go-round,  he hardly paid it any attention, other than showing up for treatments,. (He does clinical hypnosis in his psychology practice and is very good at self-hypnosis.)

He’s coming down the radiation oncology hall now. I hear his voice. I feel my eyes smile.

 “Same as last time?” I ask him as he gathers his bag of street clothes to get changed. “Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I just take a rest.”

Trusting that these excellent Duke docs are right: he’ll be fine.


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  • Gail Chesson
    June 9, 2023 at 2:42 pm Reply

    Prayer of healing for Bob. Light of calm and love for you both. Grace filled moments await you.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 3:20 pm Reply

      Thank you, Gail. I like the idea of grace-filled moments.

  • Debra Arntsen Castleberry
    June 9, 2023 at 2:49 pm Reply

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I have had many of those thoughts (not put so eloquently), as I have had cancer twice. Have been cancer- free 11 years.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 3:20 pm Reply

      Hurray for 11 years, Debra! And I’m sorry you had to go through it twice.

  • June 9, 2023 at 2:59 pm Reply

    I sincerely hope so, Peggy, for both your sakes. I know how daunting it can be to sit in a hospital waiting room…..I’ve had to do too much of that over the last 15 years, in 4 different hospitals. I wouldn’t wish it for anyone, but especially a good friend. Take care of both of you!

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 3:21 pm Reply

      I thank you, Judy. And you have been through about as much as anyone, friend.

  • Christina Askounis
    June 9, 2023 at 3:36 pm Reply

    May all be well, Peggy. Sending love and light your way.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 8:53 pm Reply

      Thanks, Christina!

  • June 9, 2023 at 4:50 pm Reply

    damp eyes readin’ what you wrote – you got it right. We’ll keep on truckin’ . b

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 8:54 pm Reply

      Thanks for your reaction to this one, Bob. I wasn’t sure what you’d think.L,P

  • Linda Franklin
    June 9, 2023 at 5:45 pm Reply

    I had lost sight of Bobs cancer(maybe on purpose ?). He is such a gifted psychologist, I’m glad to know he can use his gifts for his own benefit. I’m thinking of you both. See you in Wilmington in July!

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 8:55 pm Reply

      Thanks, Linda. He is indeed gifted. See you in July!

    • Bob
      June 10, 2023 at 3:34 am Reply

      Thanks Linda, I’m doing well with it and expect to continue – just started radiation and a few more scheduled. It’ll be OK no matter what. bob

  • Julie Chitwood
    June 9, 2023 at 8:19 pm Reply

    My husband was Stage 4/metastatic at his initial diagnosis. (No prostate cancer in his family.) He was a very fit sixty one year old. It was shocking. We’re now almost six years in and so very grateful for his oncology team at Vanderbilt. I send hope for a positive outcome from his treatment. Peace and blessings.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 9, 2023 at 9:53 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for this encouraging story, Julie. I appreciate it. And I’m glad your husband is doing well. I’m wowed by what medicine can do. And it’s getting better all the time. Peace and blessings to the two of you.

  • Bob
    June 10, 2023 at 3:36 am Reply

    Glad for y’all’s good outcome – there are plenty of positive stories, and glad you’re one – I intend to be one too. bob

  • Mary Anne Hanlon Smith
    June 11, 2023 at 1:15 pm Reply

    Cancer sucks as they say. I have had BC twice (2007 and 2019) and my partner had bladder and prostate cancer last year and were removed. He is still recovering from the surgery as docs said would be a year. Remain positive and you will get through this!

    • Peggy Payne
      June 11, 2023 at 1:48 pm Reply

      Wow, four rounds you’ve been through. Too much! But you set a good example of getting through it. I wish you continuing good health. Thanks, Mary Anne!

  • Ron perkinson
    June 13, 2023 at 6:59 pm Reply

    I have experienced multiple health issues in the last 10 years. This has led me to two conclusions, neither of which is uplifting, but they are not really downlifting either.
    The first is the thought that people have had their life saved by medical treatment. The fact is they have had their life extended. I don’t believe a single person alive in 1901 is alive today. There is certainly a feeling of joy and relief at the extension. But there should also be a recognition that you have just tied the game- you haven’t won it.
    If money , or access to it, can buy a cure, the condition is manageable. When no amount of money will purchase a resolution, the condition owns you.
    Carry on.

    • Peggy Payne
      June 13, 2023 at 7:40 pm Reply

      You’re right about extension, Ron. I’m glad yours keeps getting extended. Keep carrying on!

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