May 21, 2009 10:08 PM 0 comments, below
Categories: My Life Tags: Cancer, Support, Help, Thank you,
I was about to write a blog about my dang iPhone breaking again, when I read the comment section of my Farrah’s Story blog and came across Girl Talk’s comment.
I was disappointed to have missed her story although I'm not sure I would have gotten through it - I watched my father-in-law try to battle pancreatic cancer for 13 months and am currently dealing with a friend battling breast cancer... it's very painful being a by-stander.
It was that last line that got me. So I’ll tell you the story of my crazy ridiculous ride with my Apple phone (4th phone in 8 months and going for a fifth tomorrow) another day—right now I need to talk to Kristen and everyone else who’s ever had to sit and “watch” someone have cancer.
Let me say that on behalf of myself and the too-many-other cancer patients out there who've been lucky enough to have you care about us, I thank you. You, who sits there and worries, and cries, and gets scared, and can’t sleep; you who tries to buy or make or do or say just the right thing to make us feel better, feel happy, get distracted, smile or in chemo-induced moments, eat something—what else is there to convey to you wonderful, important, helpless individuals but that you are-- in a nutshell--the best.
We cancer patients are scared, and we’re fighting. We have a goal and we have our drugs and our treatment plans and our maps for kicking cancer’s –ss. You on the other hand don’t have that focus: you are watching and waiting and worrying, and wondering—wondering if standing there feeling helpless and un-useful is really doing us any good.
Well I’m here to assure you, in no uncertain terms, that the answer to your furrowed brow question is Y-E-S.
You see, sometimes helping out has nothing to do with effort--even though I'm sure it doesn't feel like that. For most of our lives, effort has usually brought some kind of result; like when you volunteer to drive us to our 5th chemotherapy drip or bring a homemade meal over so we don’t have to worry about cooking at a time like this, you can feel the fruits or your labor. You clearly helped. You know where you stand. And it's so true; these are obvious moments where your generosity and kindness, mixed with your gas mileage, time and recipes, serves to lighten our cancer load and helps us make it through another rotten day.
But there are other times, indeed all the rest of the time, when you’re sitting at your home, staring at your phone and thinking of calling, but not wanting to wake us from what you hope is a nap we’re taking-- wondering how we are, what else could you be doing, and whether anything of the seemingly tiny things you’ve done to help us out of our trauma even mattered. I tell you, they do.
And as you go off and do things in your day that you want to enjoy but up next to our cancer now seem almost indulgent—the running around the grocery store with your biggest worry being what’s on sale, the catching up with a friend for a latte and to dish about the latest People Magazine, or the going to sleep knowing your kids are safe in bed and you are a healthy strong woman whose friend is battling something you pray you never get-- you wonder, how much more of this can I take? How much more of someone else’s cancer can I witness? Am I strong enough for this? What does this all mean for me? Is being scared of this okay, or am I one big failure as a friend?
Let me tell you, all those feelings are so absolutely okay they’re practically textbook cases of what happens when cancer hits your intimate circle: and as the friend around the friend/sister/cousin/husband/wife or someone-you-know with cancer, you have every right to have these moments. You have every right to live your life, to help out when you can, and even in certain moments to want to back away and pretend none of it is even happening.
But hear this: our cancer is not your cancer. In fact, it can’t be yours, we need you to be strong, and healthy, and we relish that for you. And we hope to be just like you again as soon as this hell is over. And when you take a break and need some time for you, take it—and don’t feel guilty. We get how hard it is, believe me, we get that loud and clear.
So thank you to all the outsiders, the bystanders, the ones who watch, and worry and wait. You are scared, we know, for us and for you. So thank you for coming so near at a time you may want to go running for a door. Thank you for just standing by or for not saying anything but offering your hand to hold, your shoulder to lean on, your smile and wink as comfort. It works. It really works.
I don’t know why cancer hits the people that it does, but we the bulls-eyed would be nowhere without you who encircle us: not only do you define our space on the dart board, but you envelop us in the love and support we need to give this fight the best we got, win, lose or draw.
And we are very, very grateful.