No Princess Fights Alone

January 26, 2011

The next morning, I turned on the computer and could hear you all cheering me on from the comments.

As I scrolled down, I could hear you, and you weren’t sad any more. You were cheering me on, and my little Lego warrior princess, and loving my sons’ insight and innocence.

No Princess Fights AloneAnd then, I clicked through, and I saw the little warrior princess looking out at me confidently from Amie’s blog. Leticia’s. Amy’s, and Jean’s, and C.Mom’s and Abby’s. Marty’s and Laurie’s and Robin’s and Stephanie’s. Kate’s. Amy’s. Mel’s, and the LFCA community. Jenny, fellow IBC survivor in New Zealand. Sue, Margaret, Sunday. Ella, Kathryn, Anne, Jennifer, Heather, Stacey, Jennifer, Annie. Bon. Heather, Joa, Aimee. Cyndi, Rebekah, and Gayle. Michelle, Nicole, Stephanie, and Ilnap and the list is growing still —

I am blessed. beyond blessed, in every dimension of my life. I have a loving family, a strong and supportive husband, the work of my dreams, and the most amazing friends, who won’t let me wallow alone. They aren’t writing me off. and so neither will I.

As I stared, unbelieving, at the screen on Saturday, my little boys came in and climbed onto my lap for a snuggle. Widget looked up and was surprised to see his little warrior princess looking back. He asked, “Why is the Lego girl on the computer, Mommy?” and I told him what you all were doing. Both boys got happier and happier as we clicked through to post after post, blog after blog, and the warrior princess stood strong on page after page.

As they laughed in delight, I couldn’t help but join in, and we giggled and laughed and we turned off the computer to go read stories together, as it was nearly time for bed.

We all slept well that night, knowing that we do not fight alone, but with an army of princesses – Lego and real-life – and their actions go beyond the badge.

For each badge posted, Amie/MammaLoves will donate $1 to Crickett’s Answer to help women in need afford lymphedema sleeves and gloves to keep their arms and hands from swelling after a mastectomy (or two). Leticia/Techsavvymama will donate $1/comment on her post. Joanne/Pumditmom will donate $1/comment on her post. Go, comment, and spread the word – there is help available for breast cancer survivors needing lymphedema sleeves… and let me know if you’ve done something to help pass along that information (just use the words “lymphedema sleeves” and include a link to Crickett’s Answer). There are boxes of class 1 sleeves already at Crickett’s Answer that need to find their way to survivors in need. Class 2 sleeves will be bought as needed.

And if you just want to feel good about humanity? Go over to Amie’s post and see the growing army of princesses.

Together we fight, as the drugs I take each morning fight and starve and cut off the cancer cells so that they can’t grow any more.


True friends

November 18, 2008

True friends are hard to find.  I’ve discovered this year that I have more than my share, however.  Friends to play with, friends to walk with, friends to work with.  Friends who will watch your kids at the drop of a hat.  Friends whose kids you want to watch, just cause they’re fun.  Friends who bring you goodies “just because” or surprise you on chemo day with a pink bag of sunshine.  Friends to blog with and friends to plot with.  Friends who will call you in the hospital, and come by and not blink — even if you forgot to wear your hat, and you are having a “no hair” day.

Yesterday, a friend went above and beyond for me.  A thousand thanks to my good friend R who took me to the emergency room and stayed for my tests and diagnosis, cracking jokes and telling stories, listening to mine, and just being there for me when I needed her.  It was hard to pick up the phone and ask her for help … but it would have been a thousand times harder to be alone again in the emergency room.

Thanks, R.


Big Ways to Help

November 29, 2007

The last post wasn’t exactly complete.  There are, of course, other ways to help a friend with cancer, and I hope you’ll help me fill out the list in the comments to this and the other posts.  Already, there are some amazing comments about helping the spouse of a person with cancer and specific household help for the day after chemo.  Genius, guys, thanks! 

The most amazing help that I’ve personally experienced are all Big Deals, but I would be remiss in not recounting them here.  These take quite a bit of effort but can be done more easily in groups.  One friend can take the lead in organizing help — a great idea in any case, as there is SO MUCH going on when a person is newly diagnosed with cancer that offers to help can easily get lost in the shuffle.  A lifechanging event like a cancer diagnosis can feel like a whirlwind.  The person with cancer may not feel like accepting help at first (trust me on that), but later it may become necessary … or at least welcome.

One of the greatest gifts is organization.  Are you a listmaker?  Or good with spreadsheets?  Offer to organize the offers of help for the person with cancer.  If you’ve got a group of her friends that want to help, great!  If not, offer to respond to those other friends that contact her with offers of help and help them figure out what is most needed.  Remember, everyone will offer to help at first — but the effects of chemotherapy are cumulative, so the help may be most needed at the end when she is most tired.  (Not always true if, for instance, the chemo regimen changed like mine did.  But even the later Taxol treatments, gentler than the original AC doses, have been much harder than the first ones.  And the cumulative effects of the diagnosis alone do add up to tears and fears after weeks or months of living with cancer.)

The organizer can make a list of friends and their specific offers to help, spacing them out appropriately so that everyone doesn’t bring dinner all at once, for example.  Perhaps there’s a specific need that the person with cancer has, like driving her to chemo and sitting with her once a week.  That can be a big job for one friend but much easier for a group of people that can each spend a few hours once.  There are other long-term ideas that you can come up with.  Perhaps she needs help at the grocery store, if lifting and bending are difficult and her husband works long hours or has a big commute.  Perhaps she is having trouble making the bed because of the neuropathy in her fingers from Taxol or Taxotere.  Maybe one week she’s got really bad bruises from the IV and is having trouble with the baby.  The ideas are endless, but the thought is the same … keep her company, and keep yourselves sane … figure out a way to spread out the help because the weeks get long and cancer, unfortunately, has no quick fix.

These are the most amazing ways that my friends have helped me through this.  Each is a Big Deal, which is why I didn’t mention them in the last post.  The last thing a friend needs is guilt or overextension.  But if you have a group of friends or can organize one, these have been lifesavers:

  • Team WhyMommy – a bunch of online friends and blogneighbors that get together to keep me company, especially on the low days, but most importantly EVERY day, just in case;
  • MOMS Club support – they divvied me up and each mom took a week to take care of me.  Each Sunday, I get a call from a friend offering babysitting, shopping, cleaning, cooking, or company, and we set something up for the week.  (I’ve been lucky to only need babysitting, cooking, and company.  But God Bless Them for offering to clean.);
  • Morning out – one of my mom friends babysits Widget each week while I go to yoga, giving me “permission” to spend a couple hours on myself.  I know I can truly relax in the darkened yoga room if my little Widget is out having an adventure with his friends and not missing me that much; and
  • Chemo Fairies – every Thursday morning before chemo, one of the moms drops off a little gift bag filled with treats, mints, and happies to help me through the day.  It’s totally spoiling me, but and it’s made a huge difference in how I view Thursdays.  Although I dread getting up to go to chemo in the morning, I also know that friends are thinking of me and I’m NOT ALONE as I fight this beast.

Like I said, these are all Big Deals and commitments.  But they have made all the difference to me.

I’m off to chemo again this morning … number 12!  I’m in good spirits now, but it’s been a tough week this week and I’d appreciate a little company today.  I’ll be checking email/web … if you’ve got a minute and you’re so inclined, would you please leave me a comment to say hi?


Zachary

November 6, 2007

There is a woman in my cancer yoga class who has a child.  A six-year-old child.  And when I heard that, my heart momentarily leapt, thinking of the playdates that we could have, and the moments over peppermint tea and apple slices, and the relaxing in the back yard as we both recovered from chemotherapy sessions and watched our children play.  My mind raced with both happiness, in finding a fellow mom there at The Wellness Community , and sadness, for the child whose mother has cancer, and the mother who must explain these things to her child.

But, as it turns out, it is not the mother in that family who has cancer.  It is her child.  Little Zachary, age 6, has cancer that is not responding to chemotherapy.  He has no more chemo options, and his mother is … well, distraught would not be an exaggeration.  She held it together well, but as we talked, walking to the twin minivans in the parking lot, it was evident that she has a lot on her mind.

And now I have a lot on my mind too.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her today.  About how hard it must be for her, her husband, and child.  About whether Zachary has little brothers or sisters at home, and what it’s like for them.  But mostly about her.  What must it be like to be the mother of a child who is very ill?

As it turns out, it’s easy enough to find out, in these blogging days of the internet.  There are heartbreaking stories everywhere, about the nephew with a terminal illness, the son with cancer, the daughter with lymphoma, the mother with brain cancer.  Then there are the stories of loss.  Of infants taken too soon.  Those born too small to thrive.  Those who were lost in the womb, labeled “miscarriage,” perhaps.  Those who never got to rest in their mama’s arms and smile beguilingly at their daddy with newborn coos.  And what is the greater tragedy?  Where is the greater pain?

As I realized in reading bon’s post earlier today, this is a senseless question.  We all have tragedy in our lives, and we all have loss.  No hurt is trivial.  And yet, they all are, compared to love. 

Today, let us focus on the love.