Monday, January 28, 2013

Four-leaves of Cancer Support

I think I've over-worked the cancer culture stuff. But there is just one thing more I want to say, then onward. Those of us with cancer need support and outside of the amazingly spectacular medical team I see 4 levels of support:

  1. Trusted 2 or 3
    1. These are the folks you sleep with, eat with, who see you naked (physically and emotionally), and are very close in proximity. 
    2. In my case that's been Scott, my parents, and Jenna. 
  2. Cancer Mentors
    1. These are people who have had cancer, or have been part of this first group with a loved one. They are the folks who can be subjectively objective about cancer - sharing the tips, listening with empathetic ears, who can understand the aches and pukes, and who can tell you, "You go, girl," when you need that. They are also the ones who can say to a #1, "When my wife . . ." or, "My daughter made me . . ." They answer questions without asking questions. 
      1. I've had beautiful Heather; she finished her cancer treatments shortly before I began and has answered every question with an answer, a hug, or a tear. I've watched her heal, and her healing gives me hope. 
      2. I've also had Karen - her wisdom when I first started down the path, gave me the strength to stay with this journey. She is my silent strength. She received her 1 year "chip" at the same time I began my trek. 
      3. And Cheryl, whose cancer is different than mine, lives hundreds of miles away. We check in with each other on a weekly basis. 
      4. Another Cheryl - pediatric oncology nurse. She answers my questions, gives me hugs, and tells me I'm her "hero."  
      5. Other women with breast cancer I've connected with through family and friends - good women. 
    2. I belong to a Breast Cancer online support group where I've been able to do a daily check-in, where I've been able to ask simple questions, and where I've gone to hear others' stories (thank you Colt for finding this for me). 
      1. I also belong to the local American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Support Group. Lovely ladies of all shapes and ages. There is an instant deep conversation amongst us - even upon meeting for the first time. 
  3. Cheerleaders
    1. Oh goodness, this category is hard. I now understand why sports' teams have cheerleaders. Their encouragement, shouts from the sidelines are great motivation for working hard. They may have no experience with cancer, but they know their "team," and they have the love and separation to be able to be a strength to the 1's. 
    2. I'm gonna try and name my cheerleaders - please - this is only my chemo brain list! 
      1. Cody - she is my #1 cheerleader. I get up in the morning because I know she's expecting me; she is my personal trainer and friend. I trust her. I've grumbled, cried, stretched, ached, whined, laughed with her. She's seen my incisions, my bald head, and smelled my chemo breath!
      2. Family - Tyler, Daniel, Diana, Julie, Sheri, Brett, Maria, Craig, Vicki, Scott, Karen, Pete, Aunts and Uncles and their families. I am in their thoughts and prayers, and that's what I need. I don't spend much time with any of them (get well so we can!), but their love crosses all boundaries.
      3. Friends - Irma, Holly, Sue, Mary, Shirlene, Dawn, Terri, Malissa, Vivienne, Nick, Gene, Steve, David, Betty, Lori, Marv, Kevin, Carolyn, Karen - those who've checked in with me via phone, cards, e-mails, walks, yoga class. They listen, distract me from cancer, laugh with me, and tell me I'm beautiful. They understand when I can't visit.
  4.  Caregivers
    1. Not that the above don't give care, but these are the silent ones, not necessarily part of that inner-circle, but eager to help however they can. 
      1. This includes those who have brought meals (thank you Darnell for managing this), those who send cards, those who send prayers, those who have crocheted hats. Those who have cleaned my house (Kristee, Blanca). 
      2. These folks check-in via Facebook, Blog, e-mail, leave kind notes, forward on sweet thoughts, and I know they care. I can't begin to name them. 
So there you have it, cancer culture and cancer community. This bundle of four reminds me of the awesome earrings Linda made for me when I began this cancer journey. All 4-leaves are necessary to provide "luck," and I need every bit I can get.

(Added 4/24/13) http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407,0,2074046.story

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