Lessons From My Cancer Adventure

Get Healthy Before You Get Sick

I was no Miz Universe before I was diagnosed but as I began treatment I was grateful for every bead of sweat I expended at my Jazzercise classes.  The Cancer Adventure is not for sissies and if you start strong you will bear the treatment better than if you begin from a deficit.  The fatigue is surprising and all that much harder if you’re toting around extra poundage.  Radiation (I am told) is much harder on the skin of obese women.  If you have an exercise habit you can maintain through the tough months you will recover faster.

Medicine is Toxic

Let’s face it.  Cancer therapy involves pumping toxic substances into your body.  Doctors seem to know how to take you to the absolute edge of endurance.  See above.  And see a naturopath.

Medicine is a Miracle

I am grateful every day that I am experiencing cancer in 2010 and not 1910.  My cancer was detected extremely early by amazing methods.  It was treated by sophisticated machines that produce marvelous results.  The miracle helps me to overlook the toxicity.

Intimates are Crucial

My heart breaks for people going through this alone.  You absolutely need one or two people with whom you can be your crabby, sobbing, exhausted self.  On those days when I was craving a cup of tea but just going downstairs and making it seemed daunting…those days Susan brought me tea and a muffin.  The times when the waterworks started up for reasons I could not identify, Susan was sympathetic and comforting.  She took up my normal jobs so that all I needed to do was be nice to myself.  Bless her forever.  Because it is hard to be a caregiver.  Really hard.

You May Get Practice on Familiar Work

Whatever it is that challenges you in daily life?  You’ll get extra practice with it during the Cancer Experience.  If you have trouble accepting help, you will need to learn how to do that better.  If you are independent, you will learn to be dependent.  If you are impatient (hmmmmm), you will get practice learning patience.  As if this whole thing isn’t hard enough!  Above all, you will be compelled to practice better self-care.

Love is There for the Asking (and you have to be OK with asking)

I have been overwhelmed by the love and thoughtfulness of my loved ones near and far.  The notes on this site, the cards, the flowers, the meals, the attention and prayers  sustained me.  Community is vital and I am blessed with an amazing community.  I am grateful to all of you.

4 Replies to “Lessons From My Cancer Adventure”

  1. Hé darling! Did you ever consider the fact that once a person is ill… (s)he is called a ‘patient’…? It comes from the Latin word ‘patior’, meaning ‘to bear’, ‘to allow/accept’ and sort of exactly explains the lesson you describe. Difficult exercise, right?! I think it is something like bearing a child and not fighting contractions, but letting them in, surrendering to their strength and joining it, opening up, letting go of all the control and then… letting the child go. Quite an achievement… keep up the good work, sweety!
    Our silver wedding celebration was just SO wonderful last Saturday! You are right that it is a feeling of wealth having your loved ones around you (so you and several others were dearly missed!).
    The photographer will probably send us the photoes shortly, so then I will be able to give you an impression. I took your flowers with me… that is… the girls transported them to our party location and they were on a table with photoes of Karin, mom and dad and three candles.
    I’ve turned this into a good habit, bringing their pictures with me to important and meaningful occasions. I also bring them with me to Urbar and… I learned it from you! I remember your hotel room in De Doelen in 2003 and feel comfortable now, setting up a little altar when I feel the need.
    The girls have really made a treat of our anniversary, as I will tell you some other time. We were very moved and grateful. Time goes so fast… it can easily make you really melancholy. Why can’t you stay in the ‘easy’ and ‘festive’ times…? Well, as we know… no way you can value the good times enough when they are all you have and you have no clue about sadness and loss. We hope to hang around for another couple of years together…!
    Jojo is in Philadelphia now; she arrived this morning and is getting acquainted with her new surroundings. We hope to visit her somewhere in November.
    All the best, sis!
    Love,
    Marianne

  2. Marianne, I needed to read that three times and so it occured to me how little real personal pain so far I have had to endure, bear or allow. Wow.

    Thanks Maggie for the self care and MORE, and more patience ideal we all need to take home even before a more difficult stretch.
    To Loving good times and good music a bit more, today!!

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