Taking Notes

DalimeetsSimpsonsIt was my turn this week.

My turn to be the advocate. To take the notes. To take in all of the information when my friend was on overload.

Like a friend did for me, I joined a friend of mine for her first appointment with her oncologist to discuss her course of treatment for her breast cancer. Fortunately for my friend, it was caught extremely early. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a family history of multiple types of cancer.

If you haven’t experienced it, getting a cancer diagnosis sends you off into a strange place. Life gets surreal, and for some time you are in emotional shock, IF you realize it. There are so many decisions to be made in a very, very short amount of time. After a few days, everything becomes a blur and it’s hard to keep facts straight. Life becomes a Dali painting.

In my case, by the time I met with my oncologist, I had already been through numerous tests and two surgeries. And I was STILL reeling. So when a friend offered to come with me to see my oncologist, I didn’t even think about saying no. I was so glad she was there, with her pen, scribbling away while I sat there with my brain in first gear. (Precursor to chemo-brain, obviously.)

In my friend’s case, there is to be no chemo, just radiation and possibly some drug therapy. She still has to decide about that. In so many ways, our modern medicine has outstripped our ability to think through all of the possible options we have for our care. It can be almost debilitating when faced with so many choices.

Some people can’t deal with the choices at all. There are two main ways that one can react when faced with a cancer diagnosis.  Some people react with “OMG I’m gonna die”. Others, like me, think, “let’s get on with this and get it over with.” I can’t fathom anything in between. How do you help someone who has gotten this type of news?

One thing you DON’T do. Do NOT send a sympathy card. Yes, believe it or not, I got one. I won’t say from who, but I thought WTF. Why not just go ahead and buy my coffin for me?

There are plenty of ways to show support for your friends who have gotten the Big C diagnosis. Here are more ideas to help you show your friends that you care without being a total jerk.

On the flip side, try to remember that some people just don’t have a clue how to react when people they care about are in trouble. I never made an issue about that sympathy card, because I knew that it was sent with the best of intentions.

nocancerAnd one more thing. I hate pink. The color does nothing for me. Yes, this is Breast Cancer awareness month, but somehow I don’t really think that buying any pink doodads will help cure cancer. What WILL help is de-stressing your life, eating healthy food, exercising, getting regular mammograms, and just loving your life. Pink, Shmink. Be kind to your fellow humans, and help your friends in need. Is that so hard? Anything else is just marketing. I’m fully aware of breast cancer, thank you very much.

On a totally different note, check out my friend’s blog, ENdieChick.com. I’m so glad she took the leap of faith and started her own blog. Good for her! Please check it out.

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Taking Notes — 2 Comments

  1. Great blog Kristi. I have been the notetaker and chemo escort for a friend through 4 rounds of Nasty Taxol with lots of complications. We are done with this drug! This past weekend has been her best, so far. It takes a village and our team refers to ourselves as the Queen’s Court. We have notebooks of info, people who cook, people who do the CT scans, a team leader who is a two time survivor and a several time survivor friend who peaks in, does the post chemo fluids and stays in the hospital. The Queen gets to call the shots, it is her cancer, her journey, after all. So far, nobody I know wants any Pink stuff either. I have referenced your journey 100 times to Marsha as she also has a challenging diagnosis. I appreciate that you continue to be a source of strength and comfort for my pals facing down the Big C. You are a super star and this blog reaches further than you can possibly know!

  2. Thank you for the vote of confidence. I knew I wasn’t alone out there in feeling this way. I agree that Taxol is the worst! I had to try three different formulas before I found one I could tolerate, and even with that I’m left with neurological deficits that I have to work around. Tell your friend to hang in there, and let me know if I can help!

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