Re:And Life Goes ON: Daily Support
Saturday, November 17, 2012 9:39 AM
Wow, Sharon, what an awful experience that must have been. When I said that no one who hasn't faced a cancer diagnosis understands what that's like, I meant it, of course, but it also applies to any horrific experience. No one who hasn't been forced out their home and lost so much can understand it either. Back in 1988, I joined a women's support group. I was about a year and a half out from my diagnosis. When we went around the circle to introduce ourselves, I could see the looks on the others' faces when I said that I had had breast cancer and had just had reconstruction surgery the week before. Sure enough, as we continued around the circle, the other women started saying things like, "My problems are no big deal compared to cancer." Jenny, the wonderful mother earth of a facilitator (who I credit, in part, with saving my life), immediately nipped that in the bud. She told us that it did no good to compare our problems to others' and that if we did that, we wouldn't really deal with our issues the way they needed to be dealt with. I met women in that group who had problems that I didn't have, thank goodness. Yes, I had the spectre of cancer over my head, but I went home to my nice home, my wonderful husband, my sweet baby girl, and my loyal kitty Max. I had a damn good life. Some of them had financial problems, horrible marriages, and the like. I guess the bottom line for me is that we should stop comparing, unless it's just to tell ourselves, like Elaine does, how blessed we are.
Farla, I promise you that the farther out from diagnosis you get, the easier it will become not to cast things in the context of cancer. I remember that the first three years were really horrendous for me. All I ever thought about was cancer--woke up to it, feared it all day long, and went to bed with it, only to start the process again the next day. I have no specific recollections, but I have a general sense of feeling that no one's problems could be as bad as mine. After all, here I was--37 years old, with a two-year-old child, and in a "poor prognostic group," according to my oncologist. What could be worse than that? Plenty, but I was not in a place where I could see that. I felt that I was holding on to dear life by my fingertips. As I mentioned, what saved me, besides modern medicine and just good luck, I suppose, was Jenny and her support group. It let me vent the fear and not pretend that I always had to be strong, and it gave me perspective about my disease and about my life. It took many years after that before the fear truly began to dissipate, but that group was the turning point. I hope that you have a person or a group that you can vent your fears to, Farla. It helps so much.
Rena age 66 California Central Coast
Dx 1986 IDC ER/PR negative 22 positive lymph nodes
CMFVP chemo weekly for one year, 7 weeks radiation
October 2007: New chassis and spark plugs!