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?
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.
And 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.