Third day of radiation treatment and I’m already making enemies with the inmates. There are twenty lockers for approximately 3-4 women going through the locker room at any given time. You already know what happened when I went in there, and I think you know me well enough to know how I responded. Locker # 13 had a brown blouse in it when I opened it to put my stuff in. F*cker! I pondered what to do for about four seconds and then grabbed the brown top of unknown cancer patient and shoved it in locker # 14 as quickly as I could so as not to be caught red-handed, guilt-ridden. What if unknown cancer patient hatched the same bargain I have with Locker # 13?! Locker # 13 could be a two-timing tart for all I know. Thirteen may provide protection to untold numbers of irradiated women. I prepared my speech for when I dared show my face in the next waiting room but there was no one there to confess, “Hey, you are going to think I’m crazy, but I moved your clothes because I have to use Locker # 13…”.
My rotating crew of technicians includes Angie, Teresa and Tina (sometimes Matt). I told Teresa of my crime but she didn’t make me feel any better. “I’m sure she didn’t notice,” Teresa remarked, unconcerned. I wanted to tell her that it all matters! The hospital gown (the great equalizer, the medical mu-mu) I grabbed had been pre-tied around the middle and it actually gave me a waist as I walked down the hall with my back bare to the world (you get to keep your pants on). I commented to Angie that I looked down right hot. I mean, the question is not whether you look hot in a thin shapeless housecoat, but how hot you look. Teresa said she had one patient over the summer that always put a scarf around her waist and how that never made sense to Teresa. It made perfect sense to me. Just like Locker # 13. That scarf was her dignity. Locker # 13 is my tether. After the technicians position your body in perfect harmony with the enormous radiation machine, they disappear behind the twelve inch thick wall and flip on the “Beam On” traffic device looking switch on the wall. That’s how you know you’re being zapped. The machine circles around you in a semi-circle. When I got back to the locker room, the brown blouse was still in Locker # 14. I tucked the blouse gently back into Locker # 13, hoping no one would be the wiser.