There are simply no words to adequately describe and convey the love and gratitude I feel for my family and friends who have given me so much love and support, as I deal with my recent diagnosis of breast cancer. I am definitely learning a great deal about this disease and the treatment that I hope eradicates it from my life, and I also am learning as much or more about myself. I have maintained from the moment I was informed that I have cancer that I want to make the best and most of this , as I take steps to get out of this club quickly and permanently.
One thing that I have quickly discovered is that I don’t know what I need yet. So many people have asked me what I need right now or what they can do to help, and I continue to struggle with how to answer those questions. My initial responses are that I need to beat his disease, followed by I am so new to all of this that I am too overwhelmed to know what I really need. Not to mention that I am far more comfortable helping others than I am allowing others to help me. This is a surreal situation, and I am finding my way through this cancer maze.
During this brief stay in the club, I am slowly figuring out what I need and don’t need, at least for today. I am speaking for myself alone, as I am not implying that this is what anyone else needs or wants, as everyone copes with cancer differently. My needs may change along the way, but for now, I need others to . . .
- Understand that I need time to myself. Normally, I compulsively respond to calls, texts, messages, and emails and enjoy being in the company of others, but sometimes, to quote the legendary Greta Garbo, “I want to be left alone.” It is nothing personal, and it is not an indicator that I am depressed or anxious, again. It is a way for me to take care of myself, as this can be completely overwhelming,
- Respect my treatment choices. There is not a “one size fits all” cancer treatment, and everyone’s situation is different. So, please, understand that I am working with the best possible doctors to devise a successful treatment plan that will work for me. Second guessing or criticizing my medical decisions is anything but helpful, as is gossiping with others about it. So, just don’t do it.
- Refrain from talking to me about cancer in the presence of my two daughters. My daughters have handled this so well, and I am doing everything I can to keep things as normal as possible. They know that I have cancer, and they are scared, despite my reassurances. So, please, don’t bring up this topic with them privately or when speaking with me in front of them.
- Ask me questions out of care and concern, not out of morbid curiosity or to gossip with others. I am so fortunate to have a rock solid support system, and I appreciate people’s genuine interest in me. I do not mind answering questions and talking about this situation, but I do take issue with people who care more about being “in the know” than they do about my family and me.
- Not share negative cancer stories with me. By this point, almost everyone knows someone who has died from cancer, so, I don’t need to be reminded of that possible outcome. I also do not need to hear how awful chemotherapy, radiation, and their side effects can be. Again, I already know, and it does nothing but upset me and scare me. I welcome stories of cancer survivors, as they give me hope that I can become one of them.
- Allow me to have “bad” moments or days. Overall, I have dealt with this better than I thought I could, as I have used humor, positive thinking, and the love and support from others to cope with it. Some days, though, I struggle, and even though I don’t like those times, it is ‘normal’. So, please, do not expect me to be positive all of the time and/or chastise me for my days of doubt. I am a master at hiding behind a big smile and pretending things are better than they are, which is what triggered my bouts of depression and anxiety. So, when I am honest and vulnerable enough to share my fear, sadness, anger, or worries privately and/or publicly, it is what enables me to cope and to heal.
- Treat me normally. I may have a disease, but I am still me. I like all of the same things I did before my diagnosis, and I enjoy hearing about what is going on with other people and discussing a variety of topics.
As I get used to this new, but hopefully temporary, version of ‘normal’, I will do my best to communicate what I need and to continue to be grateful for what I have. Just be patient with me, as I am very new to all of this.
That’s another story. . .
Categories: That's Another Story