Since my last blog post, I've been amazed by the incredible generosity offered by so many friends all over the world! I feel truly loved by all and from this have wanted to give back in some way even though at the moment, I'm limited by what I can give. So instead a few weeks ago I reached out to an online establishment that I follow and felt that I could offer my love and support out to those like me who are fighting cancer and may need support.
I shared a recent photo of myself smiling after my last "red devil" chemo infusion a few weeks ago and this was published via "Love What Matters" with my words of hope, love and support to others and the response was incredible - from all over the world people came forward and shared their love, wishes and their stories....some are in the midst of fighting cancer, specifically triple negative breast cancer like me, and others have survived and live to tell the tale and others are supporting someone going through it. It's just wonderful seeing how helpful it is to not just be positive but to share positivity with others as it has its own healing powers which work marvels when knowing I'm part of a team of fighters all aiming for one goal of success, healing and long life!
I must also say a massive thank you to so many lovely friends who immediately went to my Amazon wishlist and purchased so many items that all arrived in a flood of deliveries these last few days and months and made me smile quite a lot as I now feel ready for the next stage in my battle with cancer! Feeling incredibly loved by so many wonderful lovelies - Purbasha, Tommy, Margaret, Jim, Irene, Christine, Amanda, Colin, and so many more who I will thank in person soon!
Because of your generous help, I'm now very confident that I can face my upcoming 2 months of weekly chemotherapy of Taxol without worries of side effects and with the strength to get to the other side of this battle! I'm extremely grateful and humbled to have so much love and support throughout my healing journey and I hope in the future when I'm well again that I can find a way to repay all your kindness somehow.
I will however mention that out of all the messages I have received on all social media platforms, the ones I'm finding to be the most meaningful and close to my heart are those from people who use words like "will" and "you are going to" rather than "may" or "perhaps" or "hope". Since being diagnosed in March with breast cancer, I've learned that everyone has their own hangups or relationship with cancer, whether they've been touched by it or not and this is more than often reflected in how they word their messages when writing to me.
I'm finding it strange when quite a few friends, (primarily on Facebook) seem baffled and even shocked that I'm being positive, have an appetite or share other posts unrelated to cancer - I'm learning that it's these people who have the most misconceptions about cancer or have had a negative experience with the disease which explains their reactions whenever I share anything. In the beginning, when trying to respond to these people, I'd try to reinforce that I am indeed okay which I felt sure would improve their responses to me, but if anything it stirred the pot more and almost fueled these individuals to become even more negative in their reactions to me - not saying they said anything unkind, but that they continued to react to me as if I was at death's door.
So if you're a person who doesn't know what to say to someone going through chemotherapy while fighting cancer, please please don't say to them that you "hope they may get through this" or that their "treatment may work" because this is not helpful at all and if anything gives the message that you believe their battle is lost!
Instead change your statements to be, "you will get through this" or "I know your treatment will help you beat this" because these are fighting words of support and will be well received! No matter what your relationship is with cancer - please remember to leave it at the door when sharing messages to someone with cancer. Words are powerful and can be used to heal or hurt so be responsible for yours!
In the same way, not saying anything and going completely silent when someone you know is diagnosed with cancer, is also just as damaging as saying all the wrong things. I have several friends and former students who used to send me regular messages about all sorts of things before I was diagnosed with cancer and since I shared my diagnosis with the world, these people have quietly vanished without saying a word. One interesting thing about fighting cancer and going through treatments is that all the side effects keep a person quite busy in ways someone without cancer can't imagine so to all the silent friends/students I used to hear from before my diagnosis - I've wondered where you've gone?
I had a silent friend come forward a few weeks ago after I finally sent her a message to see if she was alright and after a brief chat, she told me she hadn't wanted to bother me and that another friend of hers had died of cancer a few years before....she admitted she'd been waiting quietly to read the news that I'd died. Since our conversation, I've not wanted to respond to her, partly because I don't know quite how to respond yet and also because her relationship with cancer isn't mine and at the moment while I'm fighting my battle and feeling confident, I'm not interested in having that negativity in my battle though I feel very sad about her friend who lost her battle. I wonder if the friend she lost to cancer, had her support or not during her battle? Even when I'm cancer-free and have entered into the wonderful world of being a survivor, I have a funny feeling that I'll let that friend go by the wayside.
Last year, a few months before the pandemic took hold, a dear friend of mine began her fight with cancer and was alone in a hospital in Finland. I kept in contact with her and though I wasn't able to visit her in hospital, I sent her messages and even if she didn't respond to me, I kept positive loving messages coming to her as often as I could. I sent her a few packages full of fun things to make her smile and keep her spirits up. It was tough because she wasn't positive at all and was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain and she didn't have the support system around her that she needed. I remember wishing I could just jump on a plane and get to her side to help her eat well and cheer her up by reading to her and playing games with her and researching how to better manage her side effects from treatment and the pandemic got in the way of what I wanted but I still kept in touch and for a while, it looked as if it was helping but sadly her journey with cancer ended earlier this year before I was diagnosed. I would have loved to have been able to share with her that I too have cancer and am with her in this fight and that together we will beat this disease and come out on the other side victorious and eating cake. Instead, I remember her as I fight my own battle and plan to eat cake for her when I'm cancer-free in a few months.
Cancer is a killer and I'm very aware of it as I too have a relationship with cancer but mine is one of determination to survive so if you're in this fight with me, then put that fight in your words when you send me messages and in your actions when we meet up again to choose our cake! But please don't be afraid to reach out to me if you've been silent and when you do please rethink your words and the power they hold. Cancer might be what I'm going through right now, but it certainly doesn't mean it's staying with me and it's absolutely not going to be with me the rest of my life as I have plans to live into my 90s so this current battle with cancer is just a little blip in the road.
My treatment will and is helping me survive and I am beating cancer!
A HUGE thank you to all my lovelies who are helping me fight the good fight.....and get ready to select those cakes!