Opinion: Column: “Come On Down!”

Opinion: Column: “Come On Down!”

Except I was not sitting in the audience for "The Price Is Right" when I heard my name called.

Nor was I needing to guess the cost of my infusion, with my treatment that day contingent on my guess not exceeding the "actual retail price." And neither were there any of "Barker's Beauties" to wave their hands and showcase what items I would be attempting to price right.

No. There were only multiple oncology nurses standing in front of the Infusion Center's entry door calling out the names of the next patients lucky enough to begin their treatment.

It wasn't exactly "Plinko," but once inside the Center, the fun, such as it is, really begins.

At least that's the way the activity appeared to me. The preceding day was July 4, and the Center was closed, forcing those Thursday patients to be rescheduled to either Wednesday or Friday. As a result, the waiting area was particularly full with patients, along with their family and friends – all of whom are encouraged to attend.

In the midst of this crowd, I sat and waited. We hadn't exactly been assigned numbers, but we were assigned oncology nurses and therefore could only enter the Infusion Center with their assistance.

Then, with all of us "waiters" looking at the entry door, waiting for an oncology nurse to walk through and call our name, the door lock clicked open and out walked two oncology nurses. As soon as they cleared the door and entered the waiting area, they called out their respective patient's names (unfortunately not mine).

Upon hearing their names, the two patients and nearly half a dozen of their supporters got up and moved eagerly toward the entry door. It reminded me of the beginning of "The Price Is Right" when four audience members’ names are called in quick succession and implored to "Come On Down!" by George Gray (Johnny Olson, the original announcer, retired years ago) and officially become one of that day's contestants.

However, once inside the Infusion Center, it's dead serious.

Your life is at stake, maybe even at risk, depending upon your cancer/treatment, and at this point, you're not playing any more games (although occasionally, you may be guessing the price of things and wondering how it all gets calculated). So, you slide into your Barcalounger, hold out your arm to have your bar-coded wristband scanned and prepare for your, hopefully, life-saving infusion – don't smoke 'em, even if you got 'em.

It's rare that you'll see your oncologist in the Center.

Typically, they'll be seeing patients in examining rooms, performing surgery or rounding in local hospitals. But they're always a phone call away, should the nurses need any additional instructions or clarification.

Generally speaking, once inside the Center, all goes as anticipated for us patients: you're in, you're treated, you're out. And when you're out, new patients names are called and on and on it goes, just like "The Price Is Right," except the program doesn't end in an hour.

And just like "The Price Is Right," where there is no shortage of audience members wanting to participate, at the Infusion Center, likewise, there seems not to be a shortage of patients wanting to be treated either. (Granted it's not exactly the same thing, but you get my drift, I'm sure.)

Cancer is not fun, nor funny, and an Infusion Center is not filled with anticipation of cash awards and magnificent trips. There is, however, lots of empathy and understanding – from your support system and from staff as well.

But it's the last place you want to be, unlike "The Price Is Right."