Saturday, March 07, 2009

Reaching out to Kathy

I have a friend on the FDMB (let's call her Susan) who has a co-worker (let's call her Kathy) who has breast cancer. I've offered through Susan my contact information, but I'm told Kathy is a strong, independent person who doesn't reach out for help for herself. She is a single mom of one son, and is being cared for by her parents.

So I told Susan I would write something up to converse with Kathy. I thought my breast cancer blog would be a good place to put this.


I, like you, have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am about 3 years post-DX, but still living with the effects of my diagnosis and treatment every day. I have made part of my cancer journey helping others with their cancer journeys, in whatever way I can.

Susan tells me you have been in severe physical pain from the treatments. I understand that. The chemo, and the Neulasta that I got to stimulate white cell production, put me in a world of hurt. Nothing nothing NOTHING made me comfortable. Even lying brought pain to my hips and ribs. And the pain made me the crabbiest person ever.

Yes, crying. Crying is a part of the pain (and other things).

For my first two infusions, I didn't know that there were ways to manage that pain other than the prescription pain killer I was given. My neighbor Mary, a nurse, showed me how to layer prescription meds with over-the-counter meds. I talk about the process I used here. Of course the pain wasn't gone, but it was very well masked. Kathy, talk to your doctors or the oncology nurses about better pain management. It is possible.

Susan tells me you are a fiercely independent woman and that being dependent on others is the hardest part of your journey right now. Might I suggest you take a brief look through your caregivers' eyes. Your parents are doing what they are doing out of the purest and most sincere love. Think of the fear in their hearts, when they think of the situation you, their daughter and the mother of their grandchild, are facing. Think of how they just want to hold you and take you pain and fear.

Kathy, please take a break from your independence, just for the time it takes to get through your treatment. Cherish the help that your parents and others are giving you on your journey. Your willing acceptance is a gift to your caregivers.

You will regain your independence in time.

Kathy, you are going through a process that will likely radically change who you are. I have known many people say they are glad for having gone through the experience of facing and fighting cancer. I am not one of those people; I would have much preferred not having to face and fight cancer.

But I am glad to have learned some of the lessons I learned and met the people I have met along my journey.

We can talk in the future about some of the things I have been doing to reclaim my balance and my life post-treatment. Maybe I will have some nuggets that will help you get back to a comfortable place. For the time being, though, for the treatment phase, my best advice is to let the current carry you, try to avoid the rocks, and grab for every life ring someone throws you.

Take care, and stay strong.


PS: My offer of an email or phone relationship is always open.

1 comment:

Linda Lee said...

Through the tears, I read your beautiful words to reach out to this woman. You have a way of expressing the depth that breast cancer has changed your life. You've climbed many rugged & steep mountains. Those mountains helped make you the most courageous woman I've ever known. Because of your journey, we have developed a friendship that I cherish. I hope this woman will respond to your offer. You have so much knowledge & love to share with her.

Love ya,