Hey there ya’ll.
Yeah, I say that now, that’s right! (Can I get away with it as a northern transplant to the Oklahoma plains?)
You know, let’s be honest.
I had a hard time writing a single word down this week. As I’ll explain later…it’s not like I didn’t have the time. In fact, I did. So much time I didn’t know quite what to do with myself.
Here’s the deal. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with leukemia.
Well, what am I going to write about? Weight loss? My savings account?
*John Stossel mustache*
Give me a break.
Stupid cancer. I hate cancer. @#%^ cancer!
(But I love you, Phil!)
My friend and his family are going through a lot this week just dealing with that diagnosis. The good news – it is treatable!
I called up my friend and his lovely wife Ann. They’re my friends but they’re more like my auntie and my uncle. They are family. When my sisters and I were little girls, Ann watched us. She had a home day care in the southern Indiana town in which I was born. But, our families lives have been connected ever since! Are they my blood relatives? No. But, they are my family.
When Phil got his diagnosis, I heard through my sis. And I called. I just called to say “I love you.” – like the song lyric, yes.
It’s hard to know what to do, what to say, when someone gets a diagnosis handed down to them out of the blue, messing up that nice world, that perfect world, that had been occupied not moments before.
You know what I said? I said “I don’t know what to say! I just want to let you know, I’m thinking of you, and praying for you. And cancer sucks! Dumb cancer!”
Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say. But I said it!
Then we changed the subject.
Who wants to talk about cancer? Cancer sucks.
You know what we talked about? My kids, this blog.
I’m under no delusions of grandeur and world domination. I just try to write about life, about survival, about love, about disappointment, hope, etc. etc. deep thoughts yada yada yada.
Sometimes, I’m like…what’s the point?
But, my friend Phil reads my words. And so does his wife, Ann!
And instead of talking about silly dumb cancer stuff (@#$% that!), we talked about all the silly dumb stuff I pen down. And the off-the-record stuff I don’t…oooooh if you only kneeeew.
‘Cause, they’re like, my set of parent alternates, and so, they care about my words like a mom or dad would! And moms and dads just kind of hang on the details of your life. Unlike most, they find it all fascinating!
So, I’ll keep writing, for a lovely diversion! For Phil! For Ann!
And furthermore, I encourage people who hear of a friend going through a tough time to just pick up the phone.
Even if you feel silly, and tongue-tied, like I did, it’ll be appreciated. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t know what to say. Say it anyway.
Don’t cry, though. You’re not the one in the thick of it. So be strong.
I relay this because that’s how I felt after my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
Stage 4 – that’s incurable. It’s shitty. There’s nothing *great* that can be said about it!
I still wanted to hear from people when she was sick. I ached for it. I wanted to hear from friends. So did she. She didn’t want to talk about crummy medical stuff, though.
She wanted to talk about something else, anything else. Because, life is beautiful, and funny, and silly. Sad sometimes, yes…but let’s not go there and just *linger*…let’s go other places, with stories, and diversion and fun. Let’s go to the movies. To the cafe. To the wine bar. Anywhere. And let’s celebrate being alive together.
And after I had Eli, and heard the words “deadly disease,” it was the same thing. I didn’t want to linger on “deadly,” I wanted us to live and to think about living. Because, we are alive, now. That’s what matters. That’s what’s counts. So let’s feel alive, together. Let’s show the love. Let’s talk about the good times and look forward to more good times.
Come to think of it, though, everyone is different. I don’t mind at all, today, explaining Eli’s CF. Obviously, I’m not an ultra-private person, like my mom was. I’m not shy about divulging details or I wouldn’t go blathering on and on and on like I am now, come to think of it. I think of talking about CF today as an opportunity to spread awareness. When Eli was first diagnosed, the phrase “cystic fibrosis” made me want to faint. It’s not like that now.
My mom never wanted to talk about her own illness, and that’s OK, too. So if a friend has cancer, or is going through something tough, take your cues from the individual. A person going through something tough may want to talk in detail about the obstacle, or not. It depends on the person and that person’s state of mind, which can change and evolve, or stay the same.
Phil, my friend – there is hope. And I love you!
Are you someone who has faced a diagnosis? What advice would you give people when it comes to offering support to you or others? Leave a comment or send a note!