10:45am. May 23rd 2014. Up in bed. 4 days after chemo #4. Nausea controlled. Woo!
How I’m feeling: Good. I’m excited for my eventful day today and hoping I can get through it comfortably. I’m still smiling from something that happened yesterday that made my day. Something that perhaps even may have made my week. I’ll tell you all about it right…now…..
On May 17th 2014, I received a message from a young lady, Kayla who had been following my journey through my blog. Someone I went to university with shared my story with her. In fact, this young lady was also an alumni of Ryerson University as well – just not in the same year as I was (She’s 4 years younger than I) She had just been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma on April 10th 2014 and wanted to reach out to me to say “hello” and to tell me that she had found my blog motivating and inspirational.
I immediately responded to her message, thanked her for reaching out and enthusiastically offered to meet up with her for coffee or even a Skype chat!
You know – other than through my blog journal writing I’ve recently started to become comfortable opening up to other cancer patients who are strangers to me. Since the day I was diagnosed (On March 19th), I’ve had many people reach out to me whom have fought cancer (and won!) in the past – or have introduced me to a friend of a friend or family member who has. I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to accept their offers of support until just recently (and I’m still making it through the list) – and I think it’s because I am only now starting to feel like I have some perspective, insights on mental and emotional growth and advice to offer back. And I know – offers of support are not offered with the expectation of receiving anything back – but I need to know that I’m providing something in return. It’s not in me to just take – even when I’m at the most vulnerable state. It’s taken a little bit for me to realize that although I’m only half way through my treatment (fingers crossed) that already have so much to offer through this new experience of mine – to others and mostly to myself.
Through some back and forth messaging with Kayla, I learned that she was starting her treatment this upcoming Monday, May 26th. The start of what could be the most difficult part of this journey – Chemotherapy. I’ve always described the side effects from chemotherapy to be much more difficult to deal with than the cancer itself. She had asked me if I had some advice for her and I told her that while I’m no “expert” that I had tons! Her treatment plan is shorter and different than mine – but I knew that I could offer her some support, advice and insights
Yesterday, we had a Skype call. It was so lovely to have “met” her for the first time. I instantly be-friended her. I instantly befriend everyone. I can’t help it. haha. We had about an hour and a half conversation of getting to know one another’s cases, treatment plans, medications, how family and friends have been responding, etc. but near the end of the conversation I had to ask her an important question.
In tough or slightly uncomfortable situations, I find that often people are much more comfortable asking about the things that may have been impacted by an event – other than the person itself. Ex. “How’s family dealing with it?” “What about work?” “Are you changing your diet?” “How’s your dog doing?” “How did moving go?” “How’s your boyfriend dealing with it?”
And so, I knew that I had to ask Kayla about how she’s doing. I looked her straight in the eyes and asked “So, how are you doing? You know, with all of this?” And I’m glad I did. It’s when we really started to get to know one another. And when I began to understand how we could help each other out.
It made my day to have been able to walk Kayla through some of the itty bitty details and tips on chemotherapy treatment and some of the med lab procedures. It made my day to have been able to share some of our experiences through all of this – with someone who can relate. It made my day to have been able to be like an older sister to a complete stranger. It made my day to have been able to be vulnerable with Kayla – and to have her open up and be vulnerable, open and honest with me. It made my day to know that she had found comfort in talking to me. And it made my day that she now feels much more prepared and relieved going in to her first chemo treatment on Monday.
I’ll be thinking about you on Monday, Kayla! Good luck 🙂