Posted by: fosteringcare | February 13, 2011

Simply being available…

Breast Cancer survivors are a completely unique breed of human beings that I have had the privilege to discover these past two weeks.

 Once my diagnosis was “out”, I began to hear from everyone who has ever known somebody with cancer. Out of complete love and concern I was given names and phone numbers, emails and websites of people who would love to talk to me or answer any questions I had. Dumbfounded at the amount, I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t being gracious, or appreciative by not reaching out to them, but I had no clue what to say. I didn’t think I wanted to hear their stories because I had no clue where mine was headed.

Finding out the process others had to go through, or how their bodies responded to various treatments wasn’t going to give me any answers about what I would have to go through, or how my body would respond to any treatments. I did not want to fill my head with possibilities that might not be anywhere near the path I have to walk.

Usually when something tragic or really big has happened in my life and people find out, I have been hit with, “Oh, I KNOW! When I, (my aunt, neighbor, cousin, teacher) had to deal with that…” blah, blah, blah…sharing every possible horror story without regard of my desire to hear it or not. This has not been true with Breast Cancer.  It has been, “You know I had BC last year (3yrs, 10yrs, 20yrs) ago. If you ever want to talk, or have any questions, I am here.”  And they mean it. I have not been bombarded with useless details or TMI; in fact it has been the exact antithesis. Truly, just knowing they were out there and knowing they have survived was good enough for me.

Or so I thought.

Absolute understanding of the need to process and not be invaded upon, while expressing empathy and willingness to simply be available must be an undocumented side-effect of Breast Cancer. Wisdom coupled with patience created the perfect environment for when I was ready to reach out.

The last three days I have encountered various amounts of “new to me” information. Information about procedures, treatments, recoveries and side-effects, information that I didn’t know I wanted to know. Suddenly I wanted to talk. I wanted reassurance from somebody that had to keep living their daily life, knowing they had cancer inside of them and could do nothing or make any decisions about it until they were given more information that wasn’t really enough information at all! Questions were formed from somewhere deep inside of me; about things I could only ask someone who had lived it. And there they were, at Wal-Mart, in the mail, in a message in my Facebook, on the other end of my phone (when I initiated the call), ready and willing to simply be available to me.

In my life, I have met a vast and varied cast of characters, but none have ever had the grace, compassion and wisdom as Breast Cancer survivors.

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