I’ve gotten so many wonderful offers of help from friends, family members, even strangers who have asked how to support me during this time. Your generosity is truly overwhelming!
I’ve put together a list of things that are very much helpful and some things to avoid.
* Important note: We will absolutely both make mistakes. This is my first time with this kind of long-term battle. I may be short-tempered or moody and you might be uncomfortable. It’s okay. We’ll both get through this!
- … reach out!
A text saying “thinking of you!”, a story about your dog/cat/toddler, or a quick update on your life are all great things. I’ve gotten so many of these that I recently couldn’t keep up with responses! Do know that even if I don’t reply for hours, days (or ever), I will read it, smile, appreciate your gesture, and send you some love back.
- … keep thoughts/prayers/good vibes/positive energy coming!
I can use it! If you feel like you can’t do anything else, trust me, this is helpful.
- … stay tuned and read on!
There is so much that’s out of my hands right now, so I really want to control the narrative of my story. I want information to come from me and to dispel any speculation about the current state of my health.
At current press time, there is no need for a “SAVE FERRIS” style water tower. (Probably ever, actually.) To avoid the labor cost of hypothetical and unnecessary painters, you can subscribe to this blog by clicking the blue “follow” button on the right side of the page and receive an email update each time I post. Is your inbox as crowded as mine? You can add this site to your bookmarked pages.
PLEASE TRY NOT TO…
- … ask me lots of questions about future plans.
I honestly don’t know if I will be able to come to your retirement party/bris/dog’s birthday party. I don’t know how my medication will make me feel on any given day. If you want to invite me somewhere, rest assured I’ll try to be there if I can! (I love parties and free food!)
I don’t know what happens once my first round of targeted therapy is over. There’s a lot up in the air at the moment. Instead of asking me about future treatment, you can ask me questions about how I’m feeling today, about my doctors, and if I am excited about the upcoming season of The Crown on Netflix featuring Helena Bonham Carter. (That answer will be yes.)
- … treat me like I am sick.
I want to do as much for myself I can because I am independent, stubborn, and as of right now, not incapacitated. (Fun fact: my first sentence was, “I do it myself.”) If you sense I may be struggling with something, a simple “can I help you with that?” goes miles before assuming I am unable to do something.
- … come see me in an overly emotional state.
It’s understandable that you’re upset or shocked about my diagnosis. I would be upset if any of you were diagnosed as well! However, I am focusing on taking care of myself at the present time. If you get a little teary, that’s okay. (I’m bound to as well.) But if you’re sensing a beating of your chest or Nancy Kerrigan style breakdown while shouting “why?!” coming on – a visit may be better at another time.
I encourage you to seek the support you need as you process this information if it’s deeply affecting you. Therapy is great! Everyone should get therapy! Being in nature or with a pet is also great. In summary, do whatever helps you to process things in a healthy, realistic way.
- … assume you know my cancer.
Ok, this is a big one and a hard one. I’m almost 100% sure I’ve broken this one myself. You want to help and you feel powerless: I have, too.
There are a fafillion different kinds of cancer. Mine is going to be different than the next person’s, even if we have the exact same type of cancer. Mine will be different. Desmoid Tumors are rare and rather mysterious. We don’t know much about them or how they behave. I am probably not going to look like most cancer patients you’ve known, because this cancer and its treatment vastly are different than others. If you’d like to offer some information you found, a service, or some treatment, thank you! But full disclosure: I may not take you up your offer or put your recommendation into practice.
The same goes for natural remedies and the like. (FYI, I’m already pretty hippie crunchy granola to begin with, and while I love essential oils, I’m pretty sure they won’t cure my tumor.) If your aunt’s cancer was cured by eating nothing but oranges covered in pink Himalayan salt, that’s great! Thanks for mentioning it, and perhaps I’ll investigate and see if I can find some science to back it up. I’m trusting my gut, some research, and the wisdom of my doctors.
- … expect sunshine and rainbows all the time.
I’m going to do my darndest to stay positive, to look on the bright side, and to embrace this all as an adventure – but I can’t promise I’ll be able to do this all the time. Hey, some days, I might just be tired and we both might need the comforting words of Fred Rogers, national treasure and Best Neighbor Ever.
Please be patient as I work through the hard days… and if you want to be safe, approach me with chocolate in hand.