Friday, August 7, 2009

Safety Net

I saw Funny People with my sister this week and it got me thinking about the "cancer support network" that everyone talks about when you're first diagnosed. About how important it is to have people that you can count on to make you laugh, help you cry, look at things with a new perspective, give you strength and encouragement and make you realize how important you are to other people's lives - that you're not just fighting for your own life, you're fighting to stay around for everyone who needs you as well - and that's a really good feeling. 

In Funny People, Adam Sandler plays a big celeb but one that is also a loner with no true, deep connections with people --- until he meets Seth Rogan or "Shmira" and the story progresses ... .  It got me thinking how incredibly lucky I am and how I would not be able to bounce back from the negative thoughts and the pain without the help of my taunt safety net. The net is grander than I ever could have fathomed. 

During this experience I have reconnected with people I haven't talked to since middle school, heard from teachers that had me in kindergarten, formed closer bonds with friends, with their families and with my own family. Like I said in one of my first blog posts, it's like being there to watch your own funeral. It's truly a gift to be able to see the lives that I've touched along the way and how many relationships that I've made in my 27 years. It's deeply humbling, incredibly moving and has been vital to this whole healing process. It's difficult to know the effect you can have on someone's life until you're thrown into a situation like this. At the same time you learn what a profound effect people's simple words and actions can have on your own life. 

In the three months that I have been diagnosed, there has literally not been one day that a card hasn't arrived in the mail with some words of encouragement or a crazy memory to share. That's not to mention the thousands of e-mails, Facebook messages and wall posts and blog comments that have touched me in so many ways. Keeping up with all the correspondence is a big job --- a job I wouldn't trade in for a second. And the visits! We are so lucky to have such an amazing set of friends from all walks of life and they all provide a much needed escape from the day-to-day doldrums of cancer crapness. And the strangers that I've met on cancer websites or through their own blogs who have now become close allies in this fight - people I can learn from, swap tips with or just bitch with without fear of making them feel uncomfortable because they're reeling from this too. 

I've been going back to the office more on my off-week now that I've been feeling stronger. Being around co-workers, easing back into a more regular work schedule has been fantastic on my nerves and on my confidence. When I'm interviewing someone for a story or designing a web page I'm not thinking about the multiplying cancer cells or the port pain. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to keep on working and contributing to the greater society beyond my little cancer ridden world. 

When I was having a particularly hard time after last week's treatment and port insertion I sat down and flipped through all the cards I've received since my diagnosis. I've saved every one and have been collecting them in a basket in the kitchen --- a basket which I've had to upgrade in size twice. Then I dumped them out and just had to take a picture not being able to comprehend how amazingly thoughtful people are. 

Things that I would never even think of have shown up at my door to cheer me up: subscriptions to magazines like Natural Healing and People, Netflix subscriptions, yoga class and Amazon gift certificates, funny books, informative books, beauty products, relaxing candles, CDs, peanut M&Ms and healing crystals, restaurant gift certificates, house cleaning services, offers for Reiki and reflexology sessions, lots of movies, tomato, parsley and basil plants, hanging baskets, food, food, food and treats. 

All I can say is that I cannot wait to pay this forward for the rest of my life. My safety net is strong. I know no matter how hard I may fall at times, you'll all always be there to catch me. It's because of you that I can get past the fear and leap from peak to peak over the deep valleys of this journey with courage and determination. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karin, I found your blog today. 27 is crazy young to be going through this!! I am 43 and feeling too young to be going through breast cancer right now. I love your sarcasm and your great attitude. I will continue to follow your blog and wich you lots of good days during treatment!