Report cards and tollwaysPosted: February 6, 2013
There have been times in my life where results really, really mattered to me. From academic grades, sporting achievements, how family and friends receive a meal I have cooked, the outcomes of pregnancy tests.
At the age of 12, I missed out on getting dux of our year level because of one lousy ‘B+’ grade in a Metalwork subject. Yes, out of ten grades, I achieved nine A’s and one B+. The major assignment was to make a ring. But in the deep recess of my mind, I remember unsuccessfully using a machine to cut red plastic. I also remember developing a keen interest in boys that year, which may have contributed to that B+. I was so close to sharing the glory of ‘ten golden ‘A’s’ with four other girls. Those dux kids from school went on to become some of the most amazing teachers, nurses, pediatricians and forensic pathologists in Australia. I wonder what might have happened to them if they got a ‘B’ in Metalwork that year? (Insert facetious grin here.)
As a secondary teacher, I never experienced anything quite like the anticipation felt on the eve of the release of VCE year twelve results. My kids collectively achieved the highest results in our state in the Outdoor and Environmental Studies subject for several years, but more importantly they were passionate about learning and they worked really hard for what they wanted. It was always about the quality of their learning. Not their grade.
Tomorrow is an important day. The results should matter, but I’m not sure that they will. My Dad was told his cancer was stage two. I remember saying to him “Dad that’s a great sign! Stage two is okay.” He was gone just six months after his cancer was staged by the most advanced technology and some of the greatest medical practitioners. So I’m not going to get caught up in the stage or the results of my cancer. Instead I’m going to focus on eating and sleeping well, exercising, relaxation and appreciating relationships and generally being grateful for a rich life experience.
My surgeon will tell me that I can’t possibly get an ‘A’ with this. That would indicate my cancer was stage 0 and hadn’t yet spread from it’s initial cells. My cancer is already invasive which means it has spread through the cell structures. From the size of my tumours and their rate of growth, my cancer stage will be revealed tomorrow as a B+, maybe a B. Even a C+, a C or a D+. And I am okay with any of these grades even though I still harbour some bitterness for that Metalwork teacher from 1988.
This Metalwork result has never been what’s important in the scheme of things. What mattered was continuing to do better. Continuing to have a passion for learning and living, and having a desire to contribute and make a difference. So regardless if tomorrow brings a B+ or a D- on my cancer report card, I will be fine with it.
I visualise a network of busy tollways. Where the gatekeepers, the toll points sometimes malfunction and let cars through without charge. Sometimes, the toll attendant falls asleep. Sometimes the e-Tag device doesn’t register. Maybe some vehicles sneak through with no number plates and can’t be photographed and identified, and maybe, just maybe they have stolen number plates. What if the toll gate has been invaded or blocked by broken down vehicles?
I live in one of the only regional cities in the state that has to enter our capital city through a network of toll gates. So tomorrow, when I travel the two hour journey to hospital for my results, and drive under the toll gates and hear the beep beep of the eTag, it will symbolise so much more than just the usual reminder that I should have topped up our toll account. It signifies a system of healthy lymph nodes, filtering, catching, identifying, analysing, picking up each fragment that travels through it, stopping the rogue travellers.
I’m hoping the traffic is clear, the toll gates have been vigilant and are working effectively.