The Waiting Room


***Click Here to Listen to Loren Read This Blog Post***

The Waiting Room

Cancer involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for test results. Waiting for treatments. Waiting in offices. Waiting for certain therapies to end.

I’m waiting for the end of my first round of radiation and chemotherapy.

Everyday, for the last 5 weeks, I’ve visited a radiation therapy treatment center. At first, it was just me and Susie or one of the kids in the waiting room. As time passed, it got more crowded. There was the lady with the pretty hats and the bright smile. The husband and wife who always look so happy and upbeat—-and despite his artificial voice box, he always seemed to be ready to chat. In the beginning, they were just that: the hat lady, the man with the voice box.  But soon each of their personalities began to emerge.

The voice box man became Walter, a retired aerospace attorney with successful, grown children, who loved singing in his church choir. I learned that for the past 20 years he’s been fighting cancer as it roamed around his body. Not sure when it stole his voice. The point here is that he’s one of the happiest men I have ever encountered. He and his wife, Louise, go through this struggle without giving in or giving up.

The hat lady? Turns out she’s a neighbor. And the people who drive her? A different woman each day. These women are an accumulation of a lifetime of friends from her gym. They seem to make the daily outing an adventure rather than a chore. And, if the treatment is wearing on her, her bright disposition never lets on.

My waiting room friends are no different from the tens of thousands of San Diegans struggling with illness everyday. Sadly, too often we become identified as the hat lady or the voice box man because the disease has become what defines us. What I’ve discovered is what’s under the hat and behind the voice box; the family man with a love of music and the 84 year old who can’t wait to get back to her spin class with her friends. And, while I hate cancer, I’m so happy that it has given me a chance to learn from its’ survivors.

Go Team!


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57 comments on “The Waiting Room
  1. Anonymous says:

    Loren, this is one of my favorite blogs. So sweet and tender. My heart goes out to everyone in that waiting room. I can only hope to be as strong when I am faced with another difficult trial. When I listen to you, I think of the late Paul Harvey who I adored. I always looked forward to hearing his commentaries. I look forward to hearing “The Rest of the Story” Loren. “Good Day” my friend and keep that positive attitude. You are in my prayers. Linda Garnica

  2. Jim Pilling says:

    Since I moved to Eugene, Oregon a year ago to be closer to my two daughters and families, I have taken on a new hobby, gardening. I have four raised garden beds on my property and took some hints from you. Loren, to plant an array of flowers and vegetables. What a pleasure this has been. Thanks to my family and you, Loren for the inspiration.

  3. I am certain, that while they are encouraging you, you are encouraging them.

  4. zippianna says:

    Go Team!

    >________________________________ > From: Loren Nancarrow >To: >Sent: Sunday, April 7, 2013 2:04 PM >Subject: [New post] The Waiting Room > > > >lorennancarrow posted: ” ***Click Here to Listen to Loren Read This Blog Post*** The Waiting Room Cancer involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for test results. Waiting for treatments. Waiting in offices. Waiting for certain therapies to end. I’m waiting for the end of ” >

  5. Paula C. Hovey says:

    Beautifully written Loren Love Paula

  6. Dear Loren I have been following you on your blog, don’t know if you remember me from Encinitas, but I am Pat of the Pat and Oscar restaurant. I miss seeing you and your smiling face in person but this has made a very special connection that I miss. Our whole family sends love and hugs to you and yours.


    • So nice to hear from you Pat. My family still misses your Encinitas restaurant. We hope you’re doing well and appreciate you following our adventures.
      Be well,

      Loren & Susie

      • Ken Kostanecki says:

        Loren, I used to work at Oncology Associates of San Diego for 8 years (as Administrator) and I have seen many successes in the treatment of serious cancer cases … and I’m hoping and praying that you have the same success! Ken K.

  7. Denise says:

    Having spent similar time at Scripps memorial with my brother for many months, I truly found how much I cherished that time with him, and how insightful, my usual goofball older bro really was.
    Take care my friend.

  8. Ida Herfurth says:

    Loren, you are in my daily prayers…God Bless!!!

  9. Anonymous says: Loren, you would like this site in case you haven’t seen it before. audra

  10. Maxine and Neal Davis says:

    I love reading your perspective on this experience you’re going through. You do put a positive light on it. Thanks for writing about it, and good luck. We’re pulling for you!

  11. Sandy Scholz says:

    Hi Loren,

    I’m sure I became known as the “gliz” lady when I went to my radiation/chemo treatments. I made sure my hats had gliz, jewelry, clothing, etc. which brought me great joy and the people around me. My 5 week treatment program at Scripps got rid of 80% of the lung cancer. The surgeons knife the rest of it. I’m almost 5 weeks out from upper left lobe removal. I just love reading your blog. There is a positive side to this journey. Scripps has alternative medicine section and one great tool is called “Healing Touch” which was a lifesaver for me. My prayers are with you and your family. Maybe one day our “cancer” path will cross. Look for lots of glitz. Sandy

  12. christy says:

    I just got back from uc Davis where they fundraise and hold an auction every year to send kids who have had loved ones directly affected by cancer. UCLA and Stanford also hold these camps every summer. most of the counselors who run the camps and fundraising have directly been affected by cancer as well. these college students amaze me with all of their efforts and so does Camp Kesem which means “magic” in Hebrew. totally life changing for all involved. I wish everyone knew about these camps. uc Davis raised enough money to send 49 campers to camp this June…. yeah!

  13. this is why Jesua loves all of us…

  14. linea says:

    Always a treat to read your upbeat optimistic blogs…a lesson for all of us…not just people fighting a disease…just a positive way to view life….Love it and You too Loren…Thank you………….

  15. Anonymous says:

    What an amazing article….there are lessons in every phase of life. Thanks for sharing because yours become ours. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way.


  16. Cathey Byrd says:

    So nice to read a blog written by someone who knows how to use an apostrophe properly.

  17. Linda says:

    Dear Loren,

    I’m the daughter of your wonderful “voice box man” and wife friend in the waiting room. My husband and I were really touched to read your caring post. When my dad lost his voice after all those years of music-making, we were all happy he survived, but also sad and wondered how this big change would affect his life. As for us, I want to tell you that we’ve seen over the years that the real winners like my dad don’t let a hardship like that change the real guy he is inside, as you described. At this point, he is just “Dad” and things like the “voice box” don’t define him to us. He has helped other cancer survivors learn to speak again and has given many people hope and inspiration, just as he always has. My mom, you may not have known, is also a cancer survivor and they are both tough cookies. So glad they have each other and proud they’re my parents. Thanks for your kind words.

    • Dear Linda,

      Thank you so much for your kind note. Your mom told me she enjoyed your note as much as she did the blog. I’m not surprised. She always seems like she’d be a great mom. We’ve enjoyed getting to know your parents in “the waiting room.” They’ve made the rough patch in my life smoother—and I thankful for that. Be well and we’re sending good energy to your entire family.


  18. Anonymous says:

    I totally understand what you mean. My late husband of 25 years was a 30 year dialysis/kidney transplant patient. He had such an upbeat outlook and it was always, ok, what’s next. I will say that the reason that he lived on dialysis, he had 2 kidney transplants 8/3 years respectively, was his Faith in God and belief that he was given the gift of dialysis. Understand that when he was born with kidney disease, he wasn’t really expected to live to be 5. So, when given the gift of dialysis he accepted it gratefully. Most look at it as a negative. I guess the reason I am sharing this with you is because I LOVE your attitude about the “Blob”. And life is a choice and a tremendous gift. By keeping a sense of humor, focusing on what you can do, and being informed you will be amazingly ahead! I am praying for your complete healing and would wear the blue nail polish but my daughter won’t share! Drats! I will just have to get my own she says. Attitude is everything! A side note, if you have RetroTV, there is a 2 hour show about Jerry Lewis’ career. It is FANTASTIC laughter therapy and most recommended. I have not laughed like that in years!!! If you don’t have it, get the Bell Boy with Jerry Lewis!!! It is amazing and I think that you would enjoy it. 🙂 Peas owt!

  19. Corinne Geras says:

    Thanks for taking us on your journey.

    You have a way of making people want to support you without making us feel sorry for you & your family for your fight to recover. You are helping so many people with your blog. People who are either in your position or may 1 day be. GOOD JOB.

    I want to support you too; I’ll be getting colbalt nail polish too.

    WISHING YOU WELL!!!!! Corinne

  20. Holly Hanson says:

    You can make friends anywhere– that’s what I love about you. I bet they go home and tell their friends about you, too. 🙂

  21. Anonymous says:

    Praying for you….Your stories are so Heart felt. I don’t have Cancer but I have friends that do. God Bless you and your family.

  22. rosalee kitaen says:


    My husband is dealing with various health challenges and I just read him your post. You are such an inspiration to so many people! Your positive attitude is so heartfelt. Thank you!!,

    Rosalee kitaen

    Sent from my iPad

  23. jsibusiness says:

    Great story and so true. My son complains to me, because every where we go I always have stop and talk to people. What tell him is that if you take the time to get to know someone, you can only find enrichment in your life. Even if it’s a weird encounter or meet someone with an amazing story or comes from another country. You will always find something interesting or new out that you didn’t before or you could find a new friend that you could really connect with. I say as people we should not miss an opportunity to connect with each other. You can miss so much in life by just sitting quietly and keeping your head down. Thank you for your story and let’s hope more peerless take the time to connect with each other. Let’s cherish each life as if it was a gift. All the best to you Loren. I am always thinking of you. Judy

  24. Linda Sladwick says:

    God love you Loren. I spent many days with my husband while he was waiting for radiation treatment. I wish you and your family love, and hope it all works out well. We made new friends too. The cancer finally got the best of my husband, but I still keep in touch with the special people we met.

  25. Laura says:

    What an inspiration you are. Makes all the small stuff seem like nothing to worry about. Blessings and prayers your way Loren.

  26. Kelli says:

    Thanks for keeping it so real. No packaged platitudes, no preaching, just letting us into your world. Thank you for the gift.

  27. Anonymous says:

    If you’ve had cancer, you are a part of a special group of people
    who really do understand what life is all about…Cancer is an ungly thing, but it also tends to bring out the best in people. Your perspective will be positively changed forever…Hang in and go team! D

  28. Beth Linge says:

    I can soooooooo relate to this latest blog, Loren! Living with cancer (rather than ‘dying from cancer’) is a total waiting game! All we want are things to be back to normal, but guess what, THIS becomes our new normal and with that, a new way of living life.

    I am so very fortunate to have the amazing girlfriends that I do who have all sat with me during each and every treatment. It’s our own special happy hour (well, 8 hours) with appetizers and wine glasses full of ice water. We love to have the other patients join our party and share their stories. It’s good to know we can meet fabulous people everywhere.

    Thinking of you and sending positive thoughts!

  29. tacreate says:

    Loren, I’m the 25+ yr. BT survivor who is now dealing with a recurrence. The San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation has been helping me and my wife Debbie, and our local BT community with supportive services and programs for the needs of patients, their families and caregivers. This all-volunteer, grassroots foundation needs more exposure in our media as it seems to go unnoticed . Their 11th annual charity fundraiser is coming up Monday, April 29th at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I do hope to meet you at the dinner/silent auction that evening. You will enjoy the inspirational stories, have fun, meet great people and come away with a warm feeling in your heart, plus great auction items. Best regards, Ted

  30. Geri Jones says:

    Thanks, Loren!!!!

  31. foxtail56 says:

    Hi Loren, your post on the waiting room is so true. I sometimes reach out to someone I see in the old waiting room and tell them …look at me! been there and done that and got through it all .You can too! I have seen the fear in their eyes and I have experienced it so many times. It is about the sharing and the caring always. Bless them all. Be well Loren. Good thoughts always. Jan (over 17 years survivor ovarian cancer stg. 4. )

  32. Tracey Cribbs says:

    Great message, enough said.

  33. Sofia says:

    Hang in there Loren…you have touched so many lives in a positive way. I’m sure the law of attraction will honor that. Keep on sharing with us please! I look forward to your posts.

  34. Jackie Owens says:

    Loren, Your blogs are a treasure. I passed your website along to a friend who is undergoing chemo & radiation therapies for Grade !!! breast cancer. She is really enjoying your trips (together). I think they help her is some way. I know they help me and I don’t have cancer. Just reading your blogs gives me a lift in spirit. You are one remarkable person. Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us, you are truly an inspiration. Jackie.

  35. Dawn says:

    Your comments about love and laughter and survival make me feel as everyone of you has given me a delightful 75th birthday gift, which I in turn will pass on to others. A diagnosis changes not only your life but those of others around you. It sort of brings us back to ”it takes a village”.


  36. Becky Taylor says:

    Loren, I think your blog is insightful and always inspirational, and today’s was especially meaningful to me. I believe there are no accidents, and that God puts people in our lives for a reason. Recognizing that every person we meet is unique and is more than his/her appearance leads us to connect with one another. I keep you and your family in daily prayer. Keep up “the good fight.”

  37. Louise Ganus says:

    Thank you, Loren. Your comments brought tears to our eyes. We learned a long time ago to stay positive. In doing so, we have received so many positive gifts of friendship and best of all: laughter. We rejoiced Tuesday when one of the “waiting room gang” received his “diploma” from the great people in the treatment room.

  38. Anonymous says:

    You are amazing! From your cancer teammates, Survivors unite!! Hope you can join us for Roy’s birthday May 4th. Last year at this time he was diagnosed, so we celebrate one year now. Love, Robin and Roy

  39. Anonymous says:

    Loren, one foot after the other every day. Yes you will share a special bond with your fellow patients, I sure did. It is a cross section of humanity, young , old, rich and poor. Those with family and l oved ones, and those with nobody, but their fellow patients. Thank God that you have family and so many friends! I had a calendar , where i crossed of every day of treatment. 57 days turned into 0 days just by believing “one foot after the other”

  40. brandi11868 says:

    I just love your posts! I am praying for you and your new friends too!

  41. Pj Wiebe says:

    I just did the Carlsbad 5000 today with a cancer survivor. And she said the exact thing you just said-she has learned and grown so much from this “gift of cancer”. She’s met people she never would’ve known, done things she would never thought of doing, helped people in ways she never knew she could. That’s our Marge. ❤ Thank you for sharing your journey, Loren. It is a very private journey yet we appreciate you letting us walk it with you. All of us really are in that waiting room, illness or none. We need to pay attention to life around us: people, possoms, blossoms, birds, a tree with shriveled leaves that someone needs to tend to…Reconnect. Reconnect.

  42. Deborah Braun says:

    Loren, you, like I, learn something new every day from all of those around us. But in particular from those who travel in our shoes.
    We are special, we were selected because of our strength and our fortitude. We sre determined. We do not know the meaning of the word “quit”.
    Stay strong and reach out if you feel the need. There is always someone very close by.

  43. Beth Browne says:

    That is a beautiful story Loren. I didn’t experience that with my cancer, but I did have support from work then and my son and his family who lived here then. I am retired now, son has moved, but I got involved 19 yrs ago with Reach to Recovery, women who have breast cancer. I think of you almost every day and say a little prayer. God Bless.

  44. Wendy Weir Gurrier says:

    Thx for sharing Loren. I always enjoy what topic will be next! There is a lot to be learned from other peoples journey’s. You never know where life will lead you. Thinking of you and your family. Always, Your early school hood
    Friend! Wendy Weir Gurrier

  45. Elaine Collins says:

    Loren you are simply awesome. The tumor has sent you on a journey and along the journey you have meet people that have enriched your life. As you share these encounters with us those people have now enriched our lives. Thank you for sharing and allowing us to come along.

  46. Jean Dittmyer says:

    Thanks for this post, Loren. My husband went through radiation at Grossmont Cancer Center, and we had a similar experience in the waiting room. I’ll never forget those folks. We realized we were not alone, and everyone’s story was special. My husband survived his cancer and is doing well. We know that some of waiting room friends did not, and we are so grateful we got to know them, at least for a little while. Keep on keeping on.

  47. Chuck Buck says:


    In spirit I am there with you, my friend, and I think how fortunate your new friends are to have for themselves discovered a new friend — you.

  48. Keep on keepin’ on, Loren. We’re all pulling for you!!

  49. Janis Pollard says:

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