Waiting for Savasana



We found out something we had overlooked from the pathology report.  The cancer in my lymph nodes, a couple of them at least, the cancer had broken free of the node and formed some extensions, hence the true need for radiation.

I looked over at my husband, holy crow.

When you are going through treatment, or at least, when I am going through treatment, you kind of forget about why you are there in the first place.

Like lately, all I’ve been thinking about is the excruciating pain i am in and how to get through that.

But then the pathology comes up and it scares me.  Deeply.

I have seen a wonderful hypnotherapist who is helping me work through those fears.  The main focus is on my ability to heal.  And I know this is true.  The scars from my surgery have healed surprisingly well, any wound or scar that I have had in my life heals fairly well and fairly quickly.

Our bodies are designed to heal themselves.  This is a truth.  This is why we have an immune system and blood cells and blood for that matter.

A lot of our healing comes from us.

Still it is scary to hear the Radiation Doctor say things like I should expect my skin to become pink and even red with radiation (burns) that this is actually the goal.  Who wants to hear that?

And you know in my last post, I wrote that cancer doesn’t change the person who is going through it, not fundamentally.  Well that’s a little bit wrong, at least for me.  I have changed in that I need to be surrounded by kindness.

I need kindness love and empathy more than I ever have in my life.  I have found that most people know how to do this.  Heck, our family dynamic changed overnight with my diagnosis.  There is so much love in our family.  So many snuggles and hugs and warmth.  Do we still have moments where we disagree?  Of course!  But most things don’t escalate to a fever pitch.  We are gentle with each other.  And the love keeps growing.

I don’t have time for people who dislike me or tease me or hurt me.  I don’t have time with people who don’t follow my rules or cross my boundaries.  I don’t have energy for a person who would pick a fight with me the day before chemo.  I definitely don’t have time for anyone who would want to physically hurt me, especially while I am going through this hell.  I really don’t have time for anyone who claims to love my children and then tries to mess with their heads or cross their boundaries or hurt them in any way.

And all of this has happened this summer.

So this is my advice for those of you, my readers who may have a loved one going through this hell called cancer, be gentle with them, even this is not the normal script for your relationship.  Be gentle, Be kind, Be compassionate.  Don’t insult the cancer patient.  Don’t give unsolicited advice.  Don’t laugh at them while their hair falls out into a bowl.

Our situations are dire but that doesn’t mean we are out.  And just because a cancer patient is scared and vulnerable, does not give anyone the right to jump in and attack.

And respect the cancer patient.  Even if you disagree.  Even if it hurts you.  Even if they say something like “Please don’t come see me right now”.  Respect their wishes and understand that it is not about you.

And if you screw up, say sorry.  And not the backhanded “I’m sorry you are a damaged person” kind of sorry. I have cancer, I already know I am damaged.  I am damaged and weak and vulnerable and sad and scared, no! TERRIFIED.  I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m damaged.  You are going to be served with a nice hot bowl of STFU if you say that kind of thing to me.  Like I said before, I’m feisty and cancer is not changing that.

Be gentle with me. We cancer patients may not be able to change right now, but you sure can.

When my Dad was sick, we had a misunderstanding.  I asked for a clarification on a drug he was going to start taking and he thought I was judging his decisions.  I was not in any way doing that. I was honestly confused.  But we had a lifelong script of misunderstandings under our belts. He got upset with me, his wife got upset with me and I felt that there was nothing I could do to fix their perception.  So I just didn’t do anything.  I stopped communicating with them completely because I just felt like every time we did talk, I kept stepping in it.  But now that I have been through this I know, I should have done something.  I should have somehow said sorry.

Eventually I did but it was months later in a hospital room.  When I finally apologized, I told my dad that every time we talked it had felt like we were speaking a different language and hurting each other so I bowed out because I didn’t want to contribute to his illness.  And he nodded his head and said he got it.  But I should have said sorry right then and there when it happened.  He was the one who was sick and I should have had the compassion to at least try to change the script of our relationship and just said sorry right there and then.

Because when things are dire, it’s not about being wrong and right.  It’s about letting the person in the situation know that no matter what that you love them and wish the best for them.

One person came to visit me a couple of weeks ago and let me tell you I was nervous.  Our normal script is full of snark.  But it was a snark free weekend.  He changed the script.  Heck, we changed the script…and I am so grateful.  Afterward I wrote and thanked him for his compassion. It was very healing.  I am so happy he came to visit.

We cancer patients, we go through enough.  And some of us are so down, we can’t change, but you can.  Be kind, be gentle, bite your tongue if you have to.  Love us.  Change the script.

That’s all I’m saying here, it’s about love.


4 thoughts on “Dire

  1. It sounds like you have been through quite an ordeal on top of what you expected. I can not even imagine someone treating you that way especially when you are battling cancer. Shame on them.

  2. Beth, you have had to deal with so much physically, but to go through it all with some of the emotional garbage that can come with toxic relationships is all but impossible. It is good you are able to get through some of the pain and trauma you are experiencing with the treatments to see through to what you need, what you can hold on to for support and what you can push off your plate. I’m glad you wrote this. It is easy for someone who is not sick or hurt to callously throw out comments or act unkindly, knowingly or unknowingly. We all need to be reminded of true empathy and respond accordingly. Some people, the ones who you need to hear the most won’t understand, so be ok with what you wrote. Don’t let the garbage get in the way of your healing.

  3. Beth, I completely agree with the need for kindness when we’re going through treatment for BC. I just finished RT and wanted to let you know about a helpful product (Covidien’s Xeroform Occlusive Petrolatum Gauze Strips). Calendula lotion (available at Target or WH) helps with the skin irritation that results from early RT, but by the end of treatment, I found the gauze strips much more soothing and effective.

  4. Thanks Daria! I will order those gauze strips soon. We used something like that on my son when he was born and it was really helpful for him. I miss you and glad you are doing well after treatment. Hopefully I will be joining that group soon.

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