Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Learning to Say "Yes" in English this time!
Hmmm...very very interesting...seeing my words in Hindi!
My diagnosis with stage IV recurrence of breast cancer and the experience was entirely different from the first time I had breast cancer, even though it was only 4 1/2 years earlier.
The first time, I was a new mom, I had recently left my position at the museum and had become a free-lance curatorial consultant. I had only moved to Meriden, CT only three years before and didn't know many people.
The second time around, I had been active in church, I had been involved with the Susan G. Komen Race, as well as the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. I am used to public speaking and had often been called upon to talk about the cancer experience and to encourage young women to do self-breast exams and to follow up with anything which would cause alarm.
I had started a very large neighborhood association with two other women and was very well known in the community. When I was diagnosed the second time, I felt like I had become the Breast Cancer Posterchild. Here I was, young, relatively good looking, reasonably thin, with an extremely photogenic 4 year old daughter. Needless to say, I was featured in several newspaper spreads on both the Komen Race in New Britain as well as the Relay for life in Meriden as I participated in both, even though I was going through chemotherapy.
I had lots more friends and friends who were available during the day time. The first time I had cancer, I drove myself to chemotherapy appointments and back. I scrounged to people to help me look after my daughter when I was sick. The second time, lots and lots of people offered to help. I had friends bringing food, friends driving me to appointments, and lots of people who offered to look after my daughter for me when I was at appointments (which never seemed to end), tests, or getting treatment.
It was humbling. Here I was, better able to take care of myself than I had been earlier because Taxol didn't make me as sick as the CAF treatment did. Yet, people were offering help in anything I needed. People I didn't know were sending me notes and calling me to offer their prayers.
I learned a very important lession. Leaning to say yes, even if I didn't think I needed the help. All of these people cared for me, and wanted to participate in anyway they could to help me get better. Sometimes, learning to say yes is harder than doing it on your own....and saying yes, even if you don't think you need it is an important gift to the giver.