Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thank You, and How to Help

I wanted to say thank you again to all of you for the phone calls, emails, texts, FB messages, blog comments, and hugs on the street! Your support means so much to me and I am totally soaking up all your love.

At the same time, I may not be able to return all of your phone calls and emails individually, and for that I apologize! Most of you know I've never been very good with the phone anyway, even before all of this... :\

I also want to let you know that while I very much appreciate your offers to connect me with other BC survivors you know, I am happy with the great support system that I have now - which includes a close friend (both close in my heart and close geographically) who has overcome BC. I also will be attending a support group for BC survivors at my local hospital, twice a month, and I have connected with an online group of women who were diagnosed with BC before age 40, like me. The support of these women - along with my friends' and family's support, even if they/you have not experienced BC - is wonderful for me.

I haven't counted, but I'd estimate that you all (friends, family!) have given me the names and sometimes contact info of at least a dozen BC survivors that you know!! While I feel overwhelmed by the idea of calling or emailing all of those women - most of whom I don't know - it also amazes me to know just how many BC suvivors my friends and family members know. I love hearing "My [friend/sister/mother/aunt/etc] had BC [number] of years ago and now she is doing GREAT!", because it helps me realize that although BC is apparently so sadly common that nearly everyone knows someone who has had it, it is also so TREATABLE. I know that some women do die of BC. And maybe some of you know women who have died of BC and just don't want to tell me about that. I, too, had a friend years ago who died of BC. But it is true that there have been tremendous advances in BC care over the years, resulting in many many women not just surviving, but THRIVING, after having had BC.
So please give all those BC survivors you know hugs and well wishes from me, but don't be offended if most of the time I don't actually call or email them!

Many of you awesome people have offered to help me if I need help. Thank you!! Here are more specifics about that:

I am already feeling overwhelmed by all of the unsolicited and sometimes conflicting advice I am receiving about how to deal with my BC diagnosis. My brain can't process it all right now and it gets all jumbled up in my head kind of like this:

eat more mushrooms stay away from soy have some cranberries this book is awesome it helped my mom so much i knew this woman who had BC watch comedy movies all day visualize lots of white light eat organic make sure to destress yoga is great are you getting enough protein omega3 is so important deepak chopra acupuncture go to sojourns have a good luck breast susun weed's book is from 1996 want chicken soup oh wait you're vegetarian elevate your thought patterns ignore the doctors use astragalus red clover energy healing my chiropractor will help try talking to your tumor hydrate hydrate hydrate antioxidants in coffee stop coffee green tea lots call my aunt zoloft helps with fear write a book try this blog site come pat my cat flax seeds must be ground let go of anger breast cancer cape cod 20% higher plastics leaking chemicals pollution use affirmations

And even if I AGREE with the stuff, it's just too much at once! It would be much more helpful for me if you could email the information to me, or the link or whatever, so that I can choose whether or not to look it up... and then look it up at a time when I have the energy to do so. Everyone's BC and body and needs are different, and what helps one person might not help another.

Also, it is not helpful to have people suggesting that the cancer in my breast is an illusion, a manifestation of anger, or something I can dissolve with the power of my mind. If you feel that cancer "is not real" and can be sent away with an attitude shift, or left alone to melt away in its own time, please do not tell me. I believe strongly in the power of positive thinking, energy healing, alternative therapies, etc., and I will be employing all of these strategies in conjunction with what I feel are the necessary medical interventions to remove the BC from my body. i.e. YES I AM HAVING THE TUMOR SURGICALLY REMOVED!

Also, please do not tell me that cancer is a gift. If it is a gift, then I want the receipt!

Help that I WELCOME:

1. Continued emails, voice mails, FB messages, etc., with love, support, prayers, good wishes, etc.
2. Snail mail surprises! Email me if you need my address...don't wanna post it on a public blog
3. HUGS!!
4. Vegetarian food without a lot of sugar (EDIT: I meant to add, when I am recovering from surgery. I'm doing okay right now!)
5. Ask me questions
6. Allow me to not answer the questions if I'm too tired or overwhelmed or don't want to
7. Make me laugh
8. Let me cry
9. Allow me my weak moments. I appreciate the sentiment behind "You're so strong!!", and yeah, SOME nights I am able to memorize chapters of the Tao te Ching, add melodies to turn them into songs, and joyfully sing myself to sleep. But other nights, I dream of giant needles and cry into my pillow.
10. Keep telling me about you and what's going on in your life, to the same extent that you did before my BC diagnosis. I still want to know about it all! You don't have to hide your troubles in an attempt to not burden me or because it's "nothing compared to BC"!
11. Be patient if I don't currently have as much energy as I did before. Learning about, talking about, and coming up with a plan for treating my BC is already an exhausting process, and once the actual treatments start, I imagine my energy may be depleted even more. I am still trying to adjust to everything, and so far, I've found that I'm overestimating my energy level - e.g. saying, "I would love to [participate in some fun activity] at 7:00 on Friday!" and then discovering that by the time 7:00 rolls around on Friday, I'm too tired and have to back out. I don't like doing that, and I am trying to be more realistic about what I can and cannot commit to doing, but it might take me a while to figure out how to not overextend myself.
12. If you want to visit, PLEASE call or email first to set up a time to do so, instead of just coming over. I may be sleeping or showering or too grouchy for visitors or wearing something really stupid or wearing nothing at all or not able to take a break from working or on a roll with my writing.
13. Despite everything I have written here, all the DOs and DON'Ts... don't be afraid to talk to me for fear of saying something "wrong." If you blurt out "Have you heard about these amazing polka dotted German mushroom capsules?! My aunt found them so helpful, I'll give you her phone number!", I am not going to bite your head off. :) I love and appreciate everyone's kind-hearted attempts, and I know that sometimes it is hard to know what to say and what not to say in these situations, and that you may be muddling your way through it all just like I am. It's okay. Really. I still like you.

Speaking of tired. I need to stop here for now!


  1. Boobs DO get in the way for trapeze... :-P

    Dear, may the only advice I ever give you is to follow your heart. It sounds like people are giving you a lot of "shoulds," leaving you feeling like you're always forgetting something or not living up to some random expectation. I believe, 100% with all of my soul, that you take excellent care of yourself and always have. If that means butter and pineapple and pasta, YES! If that means seeing your friends, YES! If it means spending nights alone, YES! Reading books you're suggested, not reading them, calling aunts or not calling aunts, avoiding soy or eating soy, whatever. Stand naked in the November rain if you want. You are a healthy woman, you consciously care for your body, mind and soul, and that's what makes you so strong and healthy.

    Strong people cry, too. Strong people get down on themselves sometimes, and it doesn't make them any less strong. This is a long, hard process, and your attitude is the kind that will see you through it.

    You are absolutely beautiful. I believe in you and am thinking about you often.


  2. B--the big C is just like anything else in life. When you are pregnant, people will tell you what you should and shouldn't do. When the child is born, they will tell you some more. When you get married, get a job, get sick, travel abroad, take care of a sick person/animal, make big life changes, go back to school, move, ANYTHING!!!! TAKE IT FROM ME!!!! Different things in life turn it upside down, and all you can do is nod and say ok. then, at the end of the day, you choose what is best for you. The best thing you can remember is that cancer is just bad luck. Sure, it's genes and pollution and the nuclear power plant and this and that--but really? It's bad luck! You can only do what you know to be best for your own body. you are a beautiful strong woman, and I believe that you will get through this with a little help from your friends, and that you will ask for help and advice when you need it or want it. Just let everyone's advice show you one thing, and one thing only: that you are very, very loved.

  3. Hey Brit Brit! :) I miss you! I have just 2 things to say today...
    1) You are AMAZING!!! :)
    2) Can I have your mailing address? You can send it to me at
    I love you and i'm thinking lots of positive energy in your direction. ♥

  4. Britta - I'm just now seeing this (i am a little slow on the uptake some days (: )I would love to have your mailing address. I love to send goodies and would really love to send some along to you :) If you have a chance, my email is courtneymckenny @ gmail . com