My friend Nan responded to my recent e-newsletter.
“I’ve had a recurrence in my other breast. I had a lumpectomy and am taking medication. Don’t tell anyone. You are one of the VERY few I’ve told – not even my sister or any family members and almost no friends either. ”
Nan and i are b.c. sisters. Such a surprise. We met each other at the Nurse Navigator’s office in our small-town hospital 5 years ago. All we had to do was look at each other to know. No words needed to be spoken. But, of course, we did speak.
No small talk of “What are you doing here?” There’s only one thing any woman is doing there, walking into or out of the Nurse Navigator’s office. We cut straight to the chase. “When’s your surgery?” “When’s yours?”
Even though Nan is “only” a friend of a friend, and i don’t know her that well, she has felt like a sister since that one moment. We went out to lunch last week, where i heard her whole story. You might think i was acting compassionately, but really, it was self-interest that prompted me to ask her out to lunch. Now i understand her more deeply. Like a sister.
And i’m not telling anyone because it’s her story to tell. I can only tell you mine, and the bottom line is that i feel at peace with her decision.
Although the sub-title of my book is Surrendering to Life, for some people the word “surrender” feels like pouring gasoline onto the inner fire of trauma. Surrender to that? I did surrender and look where it got me!
I am not talking about surrendering to toxic relationships. You know what to do with toxic relationships: Get the hell out of there! You have that in your power. Go! Get away! Do not look back. Every time you look back, you run the risk of being drawn magnetically back to the toxicity.
Surrender does not mean practicing idiot compassion. Surrender does not mean I should be able to deal with this. Dealing with it means leaving that situation in the dust, leaving it in the past tense.
I am talking about surrendering the story, surrendering the second dart of mental anguish about what happened. Yes, of course, we have the emotional pain. Stay right there. Stay with the first dart. No story allowed. Continue reading “Surrendering to Life #6”
As I was walking into radiation five years ago for my intake, Katherine passed me going the other direction.
The radiation department at Cheshire Hospital has its own outside entrance and parking lot. If you’re walking down the radiation hallway, you are not going to meet stray people. You’re going to meet people who are there for the same reason you are.
“Katherine!” I exclaimed “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I have bladder cancer,” she said. “What about you?”
“I’m here because I had a lumpectomy two months ago,” I said. “I’m getting my tattoo marks for radiation today.”
“I don’t think I’m going to do radiation,” she said. Continue reading “Bundle of Energy”
Mary, who recently had a mastectomy, said that when her husband and adult daughter first heard the news that breast cancer had returned 20 years later, “it was like they had received a death sentence.”
When your main supports have the wind knocked out of them, what do you do? Just at the time when you need them, they are out of commission—hit hard by the news, which sounds like a death knell. Mary was shaken and aggrieved by the re-occurrence of breast cancer (in her other breast), and her family was traumatized.
This is the time to call in the emergency supports—the friend who is a nurse, the friend who is a therapist, the friend who is a hospice volunteer, the friend who is good in an emergency. The whole family needs support, each one probably needing something different.
Ask for help. Build a team that is larger than the close circle of your nearest-and-dearest.
Your main supports need some care and tending so they can get back on their feet and support you. People love to help, but they do need to be asked. Ask.
You yourself would be happy to help a friend. Your friends are happy to help you. Your friends love you.