It’s been 7 hours and 98 days

since you told me you have breast cancer.

Your usually goofy Snapchat was a picture of your cat socks.  Not your face.  No flower crown.  No dog ears.

I had just sent you a picture of me — with a thinly veiled sentence fishing for praise.

You told me I looked great and that you had just shaved your head and couldn’t show it to anyone just yet.

sinead

I am

the worst

cancer fighting

wing woman

ever.

I told you I had always admired Sinead O’Connor’s bold, bald head.  I told you it would show off all your interesting earrings.

You said you liked that.  (Thank god!) You told me you loved me from 1,500 miles away.

I send you cards.  And all the cat-related shit I can find.

But I feel pathetic.

So pathetic that I want to do something dramatic.  I want to hurt because you’re hurting.  We used to weather stuff together — physically together, not digitally together.

I think maybe I’ll shave my head.  For some reason I consult the interweb first.  People who have/have had breast cancer DO NOT, as a whole, seem to like or appreciate this.  It’s an attention-getting ploy, they say.  A gesture with no meaning, unless you CUT your hair and donate it to kids with cancer.  There are better ways to show support.

I get it.  After I read it.  It’s not helpful to you and other cancer fighters.

But, unfortunately, that’s not the point.  The urge to shave my head is not for you.  It’s not to support you.  It’s to sooth my pain.  Like a tattoo for some people.  Or a silent, breath-holding cut in the middle of the night for others.  My pain giving a shout out to your pain.  To help me deal with you and cancer.

Is that sick?  Does anyone talk about this or feel like this?

I don’t know how to play this role and I hate it.  It’s the wrong light for me.  I wish to god we could both just stomp off stage.

I don’t like what it’s doing to you.

I for sure don’t like what it’s doing to me or how it’s shining a spotlight on all my inadequacies.

I don’t ever want you to know that while I’m try to help you, I’m searching for a way to help me.  I’m not up to this, but what I’m doing is all I’ve got.  Thank goodness you have a billion other friends who want to help you as well.  You deserve so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “It’s been 7 hours and 98 days

  1. I just finished going through cancer…I lost my hair, then a breast–losing the hair was harder. You are right, someone shaving their head isn’t for “us”, it’s for you. If you can acknowledge that then that’s great, but if you REALLY want to know what you can do I can offer you some suggestions.

    1) Ask her.

    Many people will ASSUME what she needs and just do them. This will annoy her. She might not even KNOW off hand what she needs, and it will vary depending on her treatments and how she copes with them. So then have a list in your mind of what you CAN do, and offer suggestions of what SHE would like. For example: send her a gift card for a local grocery store (funds can be tight when going through an illness, every little bot helps). Offer to hire a cleaning service for her (once or twice) so she doesn’t have to deal with house cleaning ON TOP OF going through chemo or radiation or surgery. Send her tops that will flatter her body should she have to have a mastectomy. Ask her if there are any books she would like to read while recovering (reading is a tough one as the mind can’t always focus that long to concentrate on a book, but offer it just incase). Try to find alcohol and scent free spa treats to send her by mail (alcohol-based products can dry the skin), moisturizers are good but check with her first, she may have a TON. See if you can find her cute hats or scarves to wear while she is bald. Send her gas cards by mail, especially if she has to travel often for treatments this helps tremendously. She might be contending with mouth sores, constipation, nausea, dry mouth, pain, infections, fatigue–I had a friend make me a quilt that went with me to every chemo session, or someone else knit me a shawl for when I was cold (and I got REALLY cold all the time…), another friend got me a necklace with a biblical scripture engraved on it, my co-workers arranged meals on weeks when I had treatment, ladies from my church came and cleaned my house, friends took my children on excursions when I was too sick to go, another friend would send me a daily “funny” by text to brighten my day, another friend would send me cards by mail with encouraging notes inside. Send flowers, (but not too often, THAT can get annoying after a while too).

    I know it’s hard when you are far away, and MOST things seem like it costs money, but thats the thing when someone gets cancer…life stops and it can get expensive to just live. Along with the regular expenses, there are new costs associated with dealing with this disease…fuel, food, parking, medications –and in the U.S.–medical bills. Every little bit helps…

    And if you can’t afford to help her out in any of the ways I described above, then sometimes just a listening ear is the BEST way to support her. Don’t ask a lot of questions, just let her talk. You can’t fix this for her, and in some small way it might feel like you need to DO something, but you don’t…she will get through this. Hope that helps…

    Like

    1. thank you for responding to my post! i have so many misconceptions about what she may need. a lot of your suggestions are perfect for long distance support. for example she travels a lot for various appointments and treatment. a gas card fits well into a card of encouragement. i hope you feel well. thanks again for responding.

      Liked by 1 person

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