Consider yourself warned!!! This post will be a bit different than my previous posts. Sure, there’ll be some bad humor – that’s a given. But you see, the deal I made with myself when I decided to journal this “chaos that is cancer” was that I wanted to be as real, open and honest and authentic about this “lump in the road” as I could (sorry ya’ll, I just CANNOT bring myself to refer this as a “JOURNEY” – it just sounds so cliche’). My goal was to share the good, the bad and the ugly……and all the in between.
While none of us just sit around and try to borrow trouble – I’m sure that MOST of us – at some point – have looked around at folks in our church, community, family, etc and witnessed them going through a difficult time – we may have thought to ourselves “if I were ever to have __________(enter your chosen diagnosis here), I know that as awful as it would be, I would ALWAYS be able to count on ______________(enter the name(s) of folks in your circle of influence here) to be there for me.
Stop and think for a minute of the names of folks you would use to fill in that blank. Family, friends, church family, neighbors, coworkers, PTA friends, Jr League friends, your oldest and dearest friend from elementary school…….the list goes on and on. You get the picture, right? We all have our mental “go-to” list of folks that we are CONFIDENT will be there for us in both good and bad times.
Well…..I hate to burst your bubble……but you can most certainly expect that there will be one or two folks on your “go-to” list that will surprise (or disappoint) you. They won’t show up. They won’t call. They won’t text. They won’t send flowers or food. They won’t be there in your cheering section like you had imagined. And you will just not be able to wrap your chemo brain around it!
The reasons for this are many. Here’s just a quick list of a few reasons some friends and I have come up with…..
- CANCER scares the hell out of some people – maybe they lost a loved one to a similar diagnosis, it may bring up painful memories of prior loss, etc
- some people just truly DO NOT know what to say
- some people don’t deal well with “less than perfection” (sad but true) they can’t handle a “sick” friend coming over to dinner with their “normal” friends
- some people don’t handle the physical changes that occur as a result of your illness
- some folks just don’t want to deal with your illness – it’s an inconvenience to them
I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift.
My Aunt BJ told me years ago that “not everybody or every family knows how to deal with sickness”. I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant at first. But we talked about how our family had seen it’s share of illnesses……from heart disease, lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, a paralyzed family member, strokes and several other illnesses. As unfortunate as it was, our family had been forced to play the hand that we had been dealt. In our family – we had learned to “deal with sickness”. Hospitals, waiting rooms….receiving good news and not so good news. Many families never have to experience a lot of sickness and as a result, often don’t know how to deal with sickness of others when the time comes. #truth
I’ve been reading a book called “CANCER Now What?” by Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D. It’s a great read. This book is excellent whether you are the one diagnosed with cancer or if you are a family member or caregiver to someone with cancer.
It’s more like a “how-to” book regarding cancer and you can read it front to back or skip around to specific sections that may be relevant to you at the present time. I’d been pondering writing about these relationship changes but wasn’t sure if I’d offend folks or not – but after praying about it and then seeing it referenced in Dr. Haugk’s book, I felt like that was my sign that this was, indeed, a “real” issue and I felt the need to share it……..so……Here’s what Dr. Haugk has to say about the subject of relationships and cancer.
But don’t despair!! This post isn’t going to end on a bad note! I can personally attest to the fact that I have seen first hand how a few of those on my “go-to” team did not show up. Disappointing…….of course. But trust me – when you “catch the cancer” like I have, things that would have wrecked “pre-cancer Sonja” fall like water off a duck’s back from “Cancer Sonja 2.0”. Your outlook and perspective COMPLETELY change!
And I promise you that for each person on your “go-to” team that does not show up…….you can rest assured that there will be AT LEAST one person (but probably more) that you may never have known before that will take the place of those you had imagined! It may be a brand new friend/survivor you meet in a chance elevator encounter who you bonded with immediately and has continued to keep up with you via text messages…….or it may be a friend of a friend of Aunt So-and-So’s that heard your story and felt compelled to bring food and visit……just because……..or someone at church……..or someone you meet at chemo……. You see what I’m saying, right? While it may seem devastating or disappointing at first – you will quickly move on…..and realize that God has already arranged for the right folks to be in your path……no matter how you know them or don’t know them. God has sent so many “unexpected” people my way in the first few months of my diagnosis. It continues to amaze me – but I promise you God sends us who and what we need…….at just the right time…….every time!
Now for a quick update on me. I have felt like a new person since Friday. Food has been staying with me…….I’ve had some decent energy. Still can not stand up on my feet for long periods of time without feeling totally wiped out. Awful indigestion (and I’ve learned indulging in watermelon is no help for that). I get very hot and sweaty and nervous. I’m sleeping okay. My port is still causing me some sleeping issues – but hopefully that will all work itself out in time. I’m praying for a great week!
I will be minus my sidekick this week. He left at 6:00 am this morning headed to Kentucky to do mission work with his youth group for Appalachian Service Project. I will surely miss him but know he will have a great experience and have LOTS to tell me when he gets home! Praying they have a wonderful week and shine for Jesus!
Tomorrow I have an adventure planned. More to come on that. Wish me luck!