I first posted this blog on my LinkedIN page in September 2018. I paste it here now because I refer to it on my next blog. Best and blessings to you!
To the journey!
For each person who hears that word, the reaction is uniquely theirs. I can therefore only speak of my experience in the hopes it will support another who heard the same, whether last week or last year. Me, I heard ‘cancer’ this past July.
Denial is not a river in Egypt.
To be honest with you, I felt a flood of relief when I finally found out. Why, because I was in denial for months! When my loved ones told me countless times to get checked out, I flipped it off with a typical: “Yeah, good idea, but I don’t have insurance.” “Gaby, you are losing too much weight!”
“It’s ok, I am just working hard.” The don’t-worry-about-me’s went on forever. Ironic is it not, that my people insisted on pointing out the obvious, while I persisted in my blindness? (that may be for another blog). The day came when I finally relented and dragged myself to a community clinic, relief in toe, finally accepting two fundamental truths: I no longer walk alone. My life is worth it.
For someone like me who was raised on a healthy dose of DIY, asking for help does not come naturally. Yes, I have brain cells and I have medical training from many years ago. Even if people see it as an advantage, I did not understand what was going on. I had no idea what questions to ask, or how to sound smart. I could only pray. So I did.
Until The Sweet Nothings
Fear was my second reaction after I got to the ER at the doctor’s urging. My lab tests were all over the map, and I needed a blood transfusion. Ok, no argument from me. Until the sweet nothings, I flashed back to a time when a cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. People with my condition did not do well. Treatments were brutal, side effects intolerable. I had close friends who went through cancer care, only to live a couple of more years, in and out of hospitals. That was my experience then, and my only reference point in the moment. The sweet nothings are with my doctors, who declare that new treatments have revolutionized cancer care. They reside in a crack medical team headed by the best caner specialist I have ever seen in action.
The sweet nothings sound out in the voices of the older women who surround me, who having experienced a lot of loss, witnessed many victories. “You have cancer? It’s amazing what they can do these days.” “Oh my cousin survived cancer twice! She is still going strong!” Very matter of factly, in fact.
I will take that. I have also gladly accepted the support from people I barely knew, who reached out with visits, prayers, phone calls, well wishes, resources and information. I am grateful for my five siblings and my oldy but goody parents who are still hangin’ tough past their mid-eighties.
Want to bet you have fight in you?
My teacher said – “tell your story”. The healing is in the story telling. You never know who’s out there, who needs to read it, take it in, be angry with it, find solace in it, question it. Reacting is good sign. It proves you still have fight in you.
No one truly walks alone. I get that now. I look forward to our continued conversation, as I open myself up to life in the here and now. Everything looks, sounds, feels, and smells new (even the pungent aromas)! I walk in awe every day. A flower on the side of the road knocks me off my feet. I have chosen at this time, to stay present to the twists and turns.
It, which I baptized Fritz (to be explained later), is here to teach me something. As I grow in my understanding of this lesson, I also know it is packing its bag.
Catch up with you soon!