Friday, April 5, 2013

Cancer Makes Me Angry

In the war on cancer we can all play a part. One of the nicest people I know received the news today that she has breast cancer. I hope she knows there is an army behind her ready for this fight. She is strong and a woman of faith and I know she will kick the crap out of cancer.  I know from my personal experience she will need help. 

In 2004, I was diagnosed with a very deadly form of cancer. I had a 5% chance of making it 5 more years. I was scared. Really scared. I told people and they acted like oh cancer- no big deal. The cancer was in my cervix and no one dies from that right? I did not want to explain that I did not have the ordinary cervical cancer but rather a very deadly adenocarcinoma. I could not utter the reality. I felt so isolated. I had my surgery in San Diego and had no friends in the area.  I spent 8 weeks in intensive care after surgery. My right lung collapsed and I had a terrible pneumonia. I ended up with a chest tube and nearly died.  No one came to visit. No flowers, no cards no calls. No one knew I was still in the hospital. Everyone assumed I had a quick surgery and had resumed my life as normal.  I share this because when we hear someone has cancer we do not know what to say. They are sick- we think we should not bother them. Everyone assumes they have had tons of calls and visitors. 

I was so lucky. It took a team of amazing doctors to find a cocktail of antibiotics to save my life. After about 8 months I had my strength back. I needed no further treatment. No chemo or radiation. Whew!! Since my experience in the hospital I have been quietly delivering care packages to those I know will have a hospital stays or have to undergo chemo. It is one way I know that I can provide just a tiny bit of comfort. I know all too well the things you need in the hospital. A throw blanket, baby wipes, chap stick, face cleaning towelettes, good hand cream, a headband, magazines, bottled water and slipper sox make a stay a tiny more pleasant. 

I share this so you know that your friend or family member needs you after they hear the word cancer. Call, text, visit and keep offering to help. The journey is a long one and help and encouragement is needed at every step. If you live far away send a crazy funny card every couple of weeks. Offer to pick up/drop off the kids. Take charge and arrange a few weeks of meals for the family. Every little action is helpful. Know that your call or visit is appreciated. If you arrive at the hospital and they are not up for a visitor just say hello and just know that the fact you came meant everything.    

Everyone assumed I was strong and had everything taken care of- I did not. So call often, visit when you can and find a way to help. Cancer wages war so lets fight back together!

To my friend- I have an endless supply of cupcakes to see you through this!!! XXOO