Monday, April 20, 2015

An Answer for Nyssa

So, I got a comment from someone recently, asking for my advice.  Here is her comment:

Hi, I found your blog through pinterest because you created awesome lessons for your sunday school class. [Why, thank you.  The bracket part is me, Kar.]  I read a few other posts and learned you had cancer. I read a few and honestly I was scared off.

I was scared because my sister has cancer. A weird scary cancer that multiple doctors and cancer clinics don't exactly know what kind. It's scary and heartbreaking. And I while I love that you're honest and upfront about everything with your cancer. I got scared. I didn't want to learn things about what my sister is going through that I CANT DO ANYTHING ABOUT. It's torture which is nothing to say about what she is going through. My coping mechanism is distance. To shut it out. Because it depresses me literally. I can't be a strong supporter to help her be positive and happy because I want to curl up in a bawl and cry.

Anywho I am commenting because I wondered if you can give me advice on how to help her. She has finished her first treatment of chemo and is on a feeding tube. It's miserable and a lot of what you described about being confined and all the crap about white blood count. Is where she is at right now. She is 24, no kids. You'll probably say call her. (I live five hours away, not too bad) but I'm afraid. I'm not strong and I'm angry and depressed. Cancer is yucky and you are awesome I appreciate your blog and I truly am sorry for your continuing struggle and your simple wish to just "not be sick anymore" Love from Nyssa 

Okayyyy.  Rubbing my hands together.  What you can do to help your sister.

Girrrrrl, I appreciate that your coping mechanism is shutting things out and distancing yourself.  And under normal circumstances, I try to support people with different coping mechanisms than mine. My coping mechanisms are right for me; your coping mechanisms are right for you.

Buuuuuuut.... having been in your sister's place (though not as badly as hers, from what it sounds like - feeding tubes were never involved in my case, luckily), I think...  Well, I'll just tell you.  She needs you to call her.  To text her.  To visit her for a weekend (You're right - five hours isn't too bad).  She desperately needs all of the support she can get, even though it's torturous for you to see her in this condition.  

When I got diagnosed, had my mastectomy, started to go through chemo, etc., it was fascinating what happened.  Some people whom I thought were some of my closer friends just...disappeared.  They never visited, called, texted, or anything.  And then some people who had been only acquaintances came out of the woodwork and were so cool and so supportive.  Now, don't get me wrong; most people were above and beyond just amazing.  But those few who distanced themselves - that hurt. And I'm sure they were like you - just uncomfortable, or not knowing what to say.  Or maybe it hit too close to home for them.  And I'm not mad about it and don't dwell on it, because I get it.  It's hard to watch people go through this.

So imagine my disappointment and hurt at friends distancing themselves, times ten billion if one of my sisters had distanced herself from me.  I know you're angry and depressed and scared.  When  you call her, your heart might break.  I like to think of it as breaking open, though.  Exposing yourself to fear and anxiety and depression because of her plight will help you develop your charity.  As you serve her, your fear and depression might actually improve.  

And since her case is complex and you don't know how things will turn out, I'd make choices that wouldn't cause me regret later on.  I pray with all my heart that she will conquer this beast.  But if she doesn't, I wouldn't want you to regret distancing yourself from her.  Or if she does conquer, your relationship might be damaged.  She might be really hurt.

In short, jump in with both feet.  Call her.  Send her care packages.  Send her cards every now and then.  Text her often.  Love her to pieces.  You can crawl in bed and sob in private; heck, cry in front of her. It's okay to cry together.  You don't have to be strong for her.  You just need to be present. For her sake, be there for her.  You don't have to think of anything to say.  Just listen.  Express your love to her.  Do anything you can to lessen her load.  She needs your strength.  She needs your love.  

This might not be the answer you were looking for, but from a survivor's standpoint, and in my opinion, that's what you should do.

If you're looking for care package stuff, here are some things I suggest:

1.  One of those little hand-held fans that you can turn on, and they fan your face.  For when she has hot flashes.

2.  Hemmerhoid cream.
3.  Tucks hemmerhoid thingeys.  You literally tuck them between your butt cheeks.  They feel amazeballs when you've got the 'roids.
4.  Immodium.
5.  Stool softener.  Yes, items #4 and #5 seem to oppose each other, but depending on the day, week, or month, she'll be needing one or the other.
6.  Funny books.  She doesn't need any of those feel-good books about how she will conquer this, etc.  She needs to LAUGH.
7.  Hats.  Hats, hats, hats.  Summer's coming, so get those knit beanie ones.  Those will keep her head warm (it will get cold, even when her house is warm).  This company called TLC makes them.  Take a look online.
8.  Propel.  You have to drink tons of water, and plain water gets really old when you're on like your fifth liter of the day.  Flavored water.  Or, even better, those little individual flavor packets that Propel sells that she can pour into a water bottle and shake.  Those will be lighter to send. :)
9.  Hard candy to suck on when her mouth has that metallic taste.
10.  Loungewear.  Short sleeves and shorts. Even if it was the middle of the winter, she would need this.  Because of the hot flashes.
11.  A heating pad.  For her tummy.
12.  Things to binge-watch.  Like television series.  I highly recommend, if she hasn't seen them, Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, and the Elizabeth Gaskell Collection.  Unless she digs other kinds of shows.
13.  Baby wipes.  For the bumb.
14.  A full-sized, warm blanket.  Because she'll have a hot flash, and then she'll suddenly be freezing cold.
15.  Clorox wipes.  Her caregivers will need to wipe down her bathroom every single day to try to keep those germs at bay.  
16.  Those face masks you get at hospitals.  She can wear them, or she can make other people wear them when they visit her.

So yeah.  Don't be mad, Nyssa.  That's just my take on it.  Step out of your comfort zone.  For your sister's sake.  She needs you.


Carrie Stevenson said...

I don't know you, but I feel inspired when I read your blog. I appreciate your candor and honesty. And your Sunday School lessons are amazeballs.

Sincerely, Carrie in Springville

Mindy H. said...

Nicely said.

No. Wait...

Beautifully said. As always.

Kristin Redekop said...

You are amaze-balls. I love your blog. Thanks for all the insight and I do love your lesson helps as well but got addicted to the rest:) xo you're awesome!
Kristin from Canada

April Sattison said...

You are epic Kar! (((hugs))) I see that the noggin hair is starting to make a comeback :D I really hope life is treating you at least somewhat decently.

Misse said...

One of my friends just got the big C diagnosis and started chemo this week. I read this post (randomly, but now it doesn't seem as random) last month. AND now I am using it as my go-to shopping list- creating a chemo kit today! Thanks!

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