i am going to consider this post a public service announcement (psa) from my perspective.
yesterday i was having a discussion with a friend (who is a recently new friend and doesn't know my whole melanoma background, although ironically she too was diagnosed with melanoma years ago and was lucky to catch it early). she was asking me on the background and i gave the overview on the story that most of you know well by know. we were talking about my upcoming scans.
she told me about how she was diagnosed before she had her kids, and that once she did, that was kind of a game changer for her. she was worried about what would happen if it came back, what if her kids were little, what if something happened to her and they had to grow up without her. at this point, i started to feel my stomach hurt because clearly i can relate to that fear and it is over the maximum threshold as i head into scans.
she next told me that she had a friend with melanoma who had beat it for 15 years and then it came back in her brain and she was gone within a year.
let me clear, i know that she didn't mean in any way for that story to hurt as much as it did. but it did hurt.
right after she told me that, i thought of barrett's uncle kevin, and that is how this public service announcement came about.
a long time ago now barrett's uncle kevin asked me to share with him if i ever had any advice on what to say, what to not say, etc., to people fighting cancer. i think that this blog is one way to give advice each time i write, maybe in not that direct of a way, but to give you insight into what a cancer patient goes through - and maybe it helps to inform how you interact with anyone you know that is fighting cancer. at least i hope it does.
that said, let me give clear advice on this point. although i can really only speak on behalf of myself, i am pretty sure that many others would say the same was true for them.
i do not want to hear random cancer horror stories about people i do not know.
i do not.
nothing good comes from those.
here is what comes from those. on an ordinary day when i might not for that moment be thinking of the worst case scenario, i then have to think about it. it turns my whole day upside down. it makes me want to curl up in a ball and cry. it makes me want to beg time to slow down. it makes me feel like i might throw up. it makes me worried that i am going to have nightmares all night.
maybe worst of all, in that moment (and sometimes for hours afterwards) it makes me lose hope.
when i hear those stories, i stop thinking about kicking cancer's ass, and i think about what happens if i don't.
trust me, i have enough dark thoughts on a daily basis all by myself. when someone talks about upcoming holidays. upcoming birthdays. upcoming trips we want to plan. upcoming events. upcoming appointments. upcoming anything. i always cringe a bit because i don't know if i get to have upcoming fill-in-the-blanks, especially if they happen after my next round of scans.
so i have the dark and scary stuff covered all by myself. trust me. anytime you see me, you see someone who carries a ton of ass kicking vibes, but you also see a girl who is scared shitless every moment of every day and does her very best to keep believing and to keep going.
here is how yesterday played out for me. i kept it together the whole time that i was at my friend's house. i kept it together when i drove malena home although i really just wanted to break down into tears. i didn't say much to barrett for the rest of the night, and didn't tell him about what happened, because i did not want to say those words out loud. hearing them was enough. i wanted to just keep trying to breathe, get in some comfy pjs, go to bed, pray for no nightmares (surprise, surprise - i had brutal nightmares all night long) and hope that when i woke up this morning i could shake it all off. the rest of my day yesterday and much of my day today was messed up over words that rolled over me in the span of about 15 seconds.
so i thought about kevin yesterday right after i heard those words. i thought about his ask and that this may be one of the most important pieces of advice that i can give.
people fighting cancer (and their loved ones) want and need hope.
if there is only one thing that you give them, give them that. don't take any of it away from them. they really need to hold on to as much of it as is possible.
end of the public service announcement.
ps) this psa is for kevin. xoxo