I'm like them! Or, more specifically, as I would like to be: helpful, informative, a perspective on living as a professional breast cancer patient worth considering, adapting or revising as appropriate for others' personal struggles with this F-ing disease.
Know what could help me out? If you all felt welcome to comment and ask questions. Not just of me, but each other, too. I'd like this blog to be a comfortable and safe place to ask the questions about living with metastatic cancer that seem to be unaskable, and discuss the issues that seem taboo. It doesn't matter if you are a person living with this crap, a care-giver, or a family or friend who just wants to help someone they love deal with this crap. Rule #1: Only judgement-free, respectful commentary allowed.
A case in point: I've been contacted by a couple women who are not metastatic but live in fear of recurrence. When they have expressed those fears to others, they are told not to worry; that it's gone. But really, it's never gone. It will be with them for the rest of their lives even if they are blessed enough not to face down another diagnosis. I offered myself to them, and they took me up on my invitation. I am carrying on private conversations with them because they feel isolated and frustrated by the reactions they receive from those that are closest to them when they need to explore their feelings and issues about breast cancer and the possibility of advancing disease.
I believe that such dismissive comments come from a place of personal fear. People want to deny the possibility that not only could it could happen again, it could also happen to them. But, those who has fought the battle are quite cognizant of the potential realities. Some will try to repress those emotions and thoughts and go forward to reclaim their lives as best they can. But others, those who are more direct in their approach to life, they have valid concerns that deserve respect and attention. Those who have not fought the disease cannot truly appreciate this direct approach and the need for more knowledge or, at the very least, reassurance that the cancer survivor is indeed reacting normally to a traumatic experience. Dismissal, or avoidance of this survivors emotions to protect your own is not fair. Furthermore, encouragement gleaned from the experiences of others can help arm cancer survivors, preparing them for what could lay ahead. It presents an opportunity to plan for those damned "what ifs." And, that, in itself, can provide peace of mind.
What do you think?
So, after all that soapbox crap, I would like to say, "Everybody, meet everybody." You are my family, you are old friends, and you are new friends. You are people with breast cancer who have questions, fears and daunting thoughts that seem to be held only by you. You are people who love people with breast cancer and want to be the best support person you can be. You are my mother, who drives me up the freaking wall but I could never do without.
Tell me if there is something you want to know more about, or if something needs to be expounded upon. I am clearly not a doctor and cannot provide medical advice. I can only share what I have experienced and the things I have learned as I've scrambled, crawled and fought my way through cancerland. For what it's worth, I hope it's helpful. Maybe, together, we can make this blog even more helpful.