10/22/09

The day my taxi driver told me I was well on my way to recovery...



In Paris, I’m a «subway» girl.

I quit using it when I started my first chemo in 2003. At the time, I felt it’d be much better to get the flu or whatever from a friendly taxi driver than from an anonymous subway user... It made sense to me, besides the fact that I was feeling too tired to use the subway anyway!

Another thing: I love perfume. Sadly enough, chemo is quite incompatible with perfume. At least, that’s the way it was for me.
Then one day, I found THE perfume... the one that kept smelling good on poor me. It was conveniently called «Dior Addict».

So in a desperate attempt to feel feminine (sort of), I started using "Dior Addict" and I loved it! Maybe sometimes I used it too generously. (I had also kind of lost my sense of smell!)

Chemo ended in May 2004 but I still had to have radiotherapy 5 days a week for almost 3 months... which meant that I really needed to take a cab every day.

The taxi station is very close to JC’s appartment.

I’d tell the taxi driver: «I’m going to the "H." Clinic». And he’d know instantly what my problem was... besides the fact that I was wearing a headscarf in May. Usually, it’d be chitchat all the way to the clinic, which was good since I’d kind of doze off and just made a few friendly sounds from time to time. It usually was a 30mns drive.

Until one day...

There was a long line of cabs at the station. You are supposed to  get into the first one in line. Actually you have the choice but it’s much better to start with the first one!

So there I was, walking up to the first taxi, when the taxi driver (about my age) suddenly jumped out of his car to open the back door for me... much to my surprise!

It made me feel like a queen!  I got a big smile from the taxi driver and I smiled back at him:«Thank you very much, monsieur».
And I flopped down into his cab as graciously as I could...

«Where are you going, Madame?»

My answer was rather grumpy. It was the end of the second month of radiotherapy and I was feeling terrible.

And then the guy said: «May I tell you that I love your perfume, Madame? And you look lovely today.»

By then I was fully awake.
A pervert! My taxi driver was a crazy pervert!
Liking my perfume could be ok. But who can find a cancer patient lovely after one whole year of «barbaric» treatments? Especially me who was hiding under my scarf and very big and dark sunglasses!

What should I do? I was too tired to jump out of the cab. No phone in my purse...

The guy was grinning. (He didn’t look this crazy after all. Actually he looked nice.)

«How long has this been going on, Madame?», he asked me with true kindness in his voice.

I gave up. I told him how hard those months had been. I did not complain. Just the mere facts and as concisely as I could.

He listened intently.

And then he smiled to me again: «I know what we’ll do then. You deserve a break. No radiotherapy today. I’m driving you to Deauville. We’ll spend the day on the beach, go to a nice restaurant and then I’ll drive you back home later on. This is my treat.»

Deauville is 2 hrs away from Paris,  in Normandy. The guy had to be kidding or he was definitely crazy.

«Oh no, my taxi driver is crazy.»

«This is a joke. It has to be a joke.»

«I need my radiotherapy. I need it!» (I’ll feel very bad one year later when I’ll learn that cancer is back, spreading from the area where the radiotherapy had been too  strong or whatever!)

«What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?»

«Calm down. Calm down.»

I told him how kind he was. I told him that I was very happily married and that my husband would certainly not appreciate me going to Deauville with another man... I told him I could not skip my radiotherapy treatment. I told him... I told him...

He kept smiling and rephrasing his offer over and over. He really was trying to convince me.

Since he had kept driving towards the clinic, I was slowly feeling better! We finally got there. I got off from his taxi (after he had jumped out of it to get the door open for me before I could do it!).

He refused to take his fare. «My treat, I told you, even though I’d rather be in Deauville with you.»

I started walking towards the clinic door (To safety? To my doom?) when he added with a big grin on his face: «Hey, you really are lovely. We’ll meet again one of these days, Madame. We’ll meet again. Good luck to you.»

And then I thought: «You’ve got to be kidding... There are more than 15.000 taxi drivers in Paris. Besides, I’m going back to Brussels at the end of the treatment.»

This could be the end of the story... because you see, once the nightmare was over (or so I thought), I came to realize that this man had truly brought a little bit of sunshine in a very dreary life. And then I forgot the whole thing.

One year later, they discovered cancer had soared... Blah, blah, blah!
My last chemo ended on the 4th of August 2006. I went directly to Brittany where I spent two months licking my wounds.

I had to go back to the hospital every two months for an intensive check-up.
Things started getting better and better. Then they were looking better and better!
And even though I haven’t been declared officially cured, I’m feeling better all the time and the results of my tests are excellent.

Six months ago, I needed to go to the hospital for an appointment with my rhumato (yes, I’m getting older, in a natural way, which is a real treat!).
So I walked down to the taxi station.

I was in a hurry so I got into the first taxi in line and said: «Bonjour, Monsieur. I’m going to the HAM, please.»

And then I heard:

«I still love your perfume and you are even much lovelier now, you know.»

Oh no!

(By then, the number of taxis in Paris had grown from 15.000 to 20.000...)

Well, we talked a lot. Of course, he asked me all about those past 5 years or so. I told him.

Then he said: «It’s obviously never my day with you. I’ll never get to drive you to Deauville now! But I am so very, very happy for you!»

By then, we were at the HAM on time. We said goodbye. We both were grinning broadly. And he left.

And this was the day I fully realized cancer could be over and done with!

"Good Night, and Good Luck"

2 comments:

Myrna said...

Wow, that is amazing that you accidentally got that same cab driver five years later! And that he totally remembered you. People can really be nice sometimes. Isn't it great?

Sabra Divis said...

I must agree with Myrna. That's quite a wonderful encounter! It's not everyday that a cab driver could remember you. I mean, he's so kind and nice, and he went out of his way to lighten up your burdens by offering a treat. Oh, what a romantic plot for a love story! Sadly, you already had a hubby. Anyway, I hope you're doing fine now. It's been a tough fight for you.

Sabra Divis