There are times when no-one here next to me “gets it”. I mean, there aren’t any stage IV cancer patients down the street from me. It’s not like I can call my neighbor and say “hey, lets grab a cup of coffee and talk about cancer”.
However, there are a TON of people who support me, even when they don’t innately understand me or my head swirling with all the thoughts inside it. First and foremost is my wonderful husband, Doug. When I was diagnosed stage IV, he stood right with me. I know he bought the camper and then the RV for me, to allow me to go camping again like when I was a child, even though he certainly didn’t want to. I’m amazed and grateful for him EVERYDAY, especially when I see all these marriages collapse under the strain of terminal illness. And even more when I hit my “wall” and stay in bed for an entire day, and he has to take care of me the whole day, while trying not to worry about me.
I’ve been able to deepen some wonderful friendships, Kim, Yvonna, Mary, Renee, Charla, Michelina and Emily; and make new ones, Carol, Pam, Bobbi, Mary Ann, Annie & Neil. I’ve also let some people go out of my life, because they weren’t helping me. That was possibly the hardest part. Realizing who had to be cut from my life, not only who but also why. And letting them go for good.
I’ve been fortunate to find an entire online community that I can call on, whether by blog, facebook, twitter, google hangouts, or text. We have some pretty random conversations with Anne Marie, Bob, Seporah, and Lisa. I’ve also learned some new terms: scanxiety, metster, and metavivor to name a few.
I get to volunteer more at my church now, and help David with administrative tasks (thanks to the evil empire, I now use the lessons I’ve learned for good!). I get fed there, body and soul! It’s pretty awesome!
I can also continue coaching, in fact, I actually get to coach more now that I’m not working 50-hour weeks. I love being around the kids, helping them, instructing them, relating to them.
You know, it sounds like I’m still totally normal.
However, being on chemo these past two years continuously is not without costs.
I still have my hair, and my skin isn’t yellowed or grayish, but I’m still having to adjust to my new normal. Taking a day (or two) to put my feet up and rest. Moderating my activity with planned days of rest so I don’t hit the “wall” and physically crash due to lack of stamina. Staying out of crowds during periods of major flu outbreak (thanks to 14 years of Navy Medicine and being exposed to about everything, I’ve got a *mostly* healthy immune system, or at least healthier than one thinks when they hear “cancer”). Staying out of the cold weather (cold being below 50).
Through all this, I’ve got a great support system of people who have my back. Who understand when I cancel plans last minute because I’ve already overdone and see the wall coming. Who take care of me and help me moderate my activity. Who don’t treat me like I’m a glass princess about to break. Who listen to my fears, and validate my feelings and experiences. Who remind me it’s okay to say “no” to the good and wait for the best.
Who has your back? They may not be next door, or even in the same state. But recognize them for being there. And thank them.