For all its worth!

I am finding that there is a certain amount of guilt associated with having cancer. But its not my guilt; its the guilt of those around me! It seems that people feel guilty ’cause they can’t see a truly constructive way to do something to help, to make the cancer go away, to make me well. And because there are really no outward symptoms that they can grab onto and offer comfort for, they flounder. I’ve mentioned in a previous post or two that Gail feels particularly helpless at this point because of this very thing; how do you help when there’s nothing to do but be supportive. How do you be supportive when the ‘patient’ is strong, mentally and physically? Its starting to seem like so many of the other folks in my world feel the same way. This feeling of impotence then morphs into a number of different states, but the one that fascinates me most is the guilt reaction.

My mother and father have determined that they will be in the city during the surgery. There isn’t much that they can do other than to be here, spend time with Gail, the girls, my siblings. My marathon surgery will begin at 7 am, won’t be over until 9 pm, then allowing for the recovery team and the ICU team time to get me settled, no one will be seeing me until 11 pm. And I will probably be out cold, and really scary looking. The parents then need to fly home on the Tuesday (or maybe the Wednesday?) for some tests my Dad is having. So why are they coming for the surgery, instead of waiting until I’m out of ICU, and maybe even when I get home? Is it the ‘guilt thing’? They really can’t help me at that point. A good friend did point out that this ‘gathering’ around me is more for the friends and family who do feel helpless, than it is for me… sorta like funerals. Funerals really are for those left behind, and not for the deceased… a way to focus grief, to deal with loss, to establish new and reinforce old camaraderie to help to fill the gap left by the dear departed.

I’ve decided to help friends and family cope with this helplessness by doing the stuff that they think I want to do. Sunday evening dinner, for instance, was almost as big as Thanksgiving, with 12 people… the previous Sunday evening dinner had 10. Gail assures me that she really wants to do these big dinners and that its good for me to see these folk and ‘feel the love’. Okay…

So, I’ve let good friends take us to see Billy Joel. I truly enjoyed that. I don’t think that I would have purchased tickets on my own.

I issued a challenge to other friends to go with me to a strip club. This past Saturday night John and Nancy, Gail and my sister Kathleen joined me at Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club. I am so glad we went, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was to watch the crowd (as well as the ladies). The room was tastefully done and well laid out. The audience as a truly interesting mix of couples, single men, and single women traveling in groups, old and young. And they ‘carded’ everyone at the door, irregardless of how old they looked. Gail and Nancy found it quite flattering. The other observation that I’d like to make is that most of the lovely ladies that we spoke to had a slightly disconnected air to them; this was just a job. Very interesting, really.

The gist of this post, then, is that while you are still ‘pre-treatment’, let your friends and family do things for you… play it for all its worth! Your treatments could make you really sick later. The friends and family who can handle your pain and discomfort will step up when you need them. Some of your circle will be emotionally incapable of coping with that phase of your fight. Let them do good things for you now…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.