Years ago I was shocked to receive a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. I had just given birth to my third child and emotions were running high for me and my family. I remember how long the months went by as I went through various treatments, just to learn a year after the first diagnosis that it had spread to my lymph nodes. This of course, caused another round of treatments. I was so fortunate to have a treatable cancer, but the hardest part was the endless waiting for the next test results and the unknown.
Just as I had finished my treatments for the second time, a friend’s husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. I knew that the hardest part of it all would be time, both the lack and abundance. Each test that was run, each sick period for the treatments, each healthy happy moment were all tainted with the lack or abundance of time. I met with my friend within the first week of finding out the news, and I could see how devastated and almost numb she felt.
I left wanting to help, but not knowing how. I thought about her a lot over the next couple of weeks and realized that what I would have needed through my tests was just some scheduled help. I would have liked to have a regularly scheduled “break” from my life. One where I could talk or not talk about what I was going through. I asked my friend if she would like to meet as friends regularly, aka a support group. At first she said no, but after a month she called back and said that she thought it was a good idea. It has been a blessing in all of our lives, not just hers. Here are some things we figured out as the Cancer Stinks Group took form.
1. Name Your Group We named our group “Cancer Sucks” after a few meetings. Really, it was all we could say sometimes.
2. Regular Schedule Life is busy, with or without cancer. Sometimes we would go too long without a meeting. If I had to do it again I would set a date and not allow life to get in the way.
3. Positive Realistic Thoughts And Statements It would just be a rule. All statements would be realistic, but positive.
4. Not Always About Cancer Our meetings were not all about cancer, in fact I think it was nice to just meet as friends and talk about anything but cancer.
Her husband has passed on, but we still meet. We still call it Cancer Sucks Group because cancer still really does suck. Life gets hard sometimes, it throws us curve balls we never see coming, but a little help from our friends can lessen the blows and give us some extra needed support.