I cannot express how important your support system is when going through any type of life changing event. For me, that life changing event was obviously my cancer diagnosis.
This picture was taken a week after my first round of radiation and chemotherapy. Most of the people in this photo are family, some are friends, one is my husband…but the important thing is that they are my “base” support system (minus my parents, not pictured, because well…hibachi & scorpion bowls).
I’m very lucky to have two brothers who I actually like, and I happen to really like their significant others as well. I consider all of them good friends. My cousin (also pictured with her boyfriend) is also a great friend of mine and happened to work in MGH’s proton radiation center when I got my diagnosis (talk about stars aligning!).
After my first week of treatment, all I wanted to do was lie in bed and sulk, but this “tribe” wouldn’t have any of that. They wanted me to come out to dinner, which required that I shower, put on jeans (ugh), and slap on some makeup… and it ended up making me feel normal for the first time since my seizure. This night was one of the best nights for me because it made me realize I could still do fun things, despite cancer treatments & being “sick”.
A big shout out to my “tribe” – not everyone is pictured because I am lucky to have an enormous support system. And if you are reading this because you happen to be part of someone else’s “tribe”, here are some recommendations that I have based on my own experience:
- Don’t stop inviting us out. Even if it’s always a no, we like to feel included.
- Tell us about the good things in your life. Just because our life might suck at the moment doesn’t mean we don’t want yours to be awesome.
- If you’re really close to us and have offered to help us out, don’t be weirded out by some strange “asks”. I had a close friend offer to help me with anything, and I (awkwardly) had to ask if she could scoop my dog’s poop because my husband was out of town for two weeks. I hated asking that, but on chemotherapy, you’re not allowed to be near dog doodies…so what’s a girl to do?!
- Don’t forget about my husband. He needs support, too. Invite him out for a beer and let him talk about things if he wants to. If he wants to, he’ll bring it up. Otherwise, enjoy your beer.
- On that same note, if I feel like talking about cancer with you, I will. Don’t feel like you have to bring it up or guess how I’m feeling. It’s enough to simply be there, and I promise that if I want to talk about it, I’ll bring it up.