Check all the boxes that apply

check all the boxes

Partner and I got our flu shots very early this season. We’re both older, and I’d just been diagnosed with cancer, so we agreed that it was probably a good idea for the two of us not to get the flu this autumn/winter.

CVS (and many other pharmacies) offer flu shots for free (for those of us lucky enough to have health insurance). They have a cute little kids’-tea-party table and chairs set up behind a screen in the back of the store; you fill out a form, check a few boxes, and then the pharmacist gives you a little tiny jab. (Usually it’s administered by Alexander, the handsome Russian pharmacist. We were disappointed this year because he wasn’t available, but the on-duty person was a lovely funny person, and she was almost as good as Alexander.)

The form was routine:




  • HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? (Yes, a little.)
  • HIGH CHOLESTEROL? (Certainement pas.)
  • DIABETES? (No.)
  • KIDNEY DISEASE? (Are kidney stones the same thing? Maybe a little. Okay, then I’ll say ‘yes,’ and explain if necessary.)

And then:


I stared at the question as if it were written in Hebrew. “What am I supposed to say?” I hissed to Partner.

He glanced over at my form. “I think the answer in your case is ‘Yes,’” he said calmly.

Reader, I cannot tell you how difficult it was for me to check that box.

It got a little easier after that. ARE YOU ON MEDICATION FOR CANCER? (Not yet.)

And I gulped and gave the form to the pharmacist, and she glanced at it and gave me my shot.

So – you see? That wasn’t so difficult.

It’s just the idea, that’s all. “Cancer” is a hard word to say out loud, especially if you’re talking about yourself. But, believe it or not, it gets easier to say.

Cancer is just a stupid condition, after all, like high blood pressure and kidney stones. It’s treatable. In a few months, I’ll be better, I hope.

And I’ll be around next year to have another flu shot.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to Check all the boxes that apply

  1. Wow!!! I would not expect that question.

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