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Diagnosed at 39 with Stage IV IDC breast cancer, grade 2, metastatic to the liver, and ER/PR+ and Her2-negative.

Monday, September 22, 2014

It's in the Little Things

When I was first diagnosed, one of the most important pieces of advice I received came from a coworker. "People will want to help. Let them."

A cancer diagnosis doesn't just affect the person with the disease, but those around them too. It's a scary beast, and there's precious little anyone can do to make it better. There isn't a cure. Not everyone is in a position to be able to help with grocery shopping or housework, and oftentimes, people want to do something but are at a loss what to do.

Cancer makes people feel powerless. Being able to help empowers them, lets them join us in the fight to say a hearty Fuck You to cancer.

A lady in a metastatic group I follow posted about the ways her boss was making her work life as stress-free as possible, and although she was infinitely grateful, she felt bad accepting the help. We feel guilty for being sick, for needing things done for us, for accepting gifts that we don't feel we deserve, and are at a loss for ways to express how much it means to us.

The best way to show gratitude is to accept the gift graciously in the spirit in which it was given. Allow others the opportunist to reach out and help you. Accept it without guilt, without remorse, knowing fully that in doing so, we lift up others and allow joy to grow even in the darkest times.

Think of how much pleasure you get personally when you find the perfect gift for someone, just the thing you know will bring a smile to their day, and the lightness of heart you feel when you deliver it. Others feel the same with their gifts, thank them in the truest way possible by allowing them this joy.

If you want to do something in return, write a letter, or a card, and express how precious their help has been and how much you treasure it. Give them something concrete to hold to, your words that will survive you, and the peace of knowing that they were able to make your burden a little less, your day a little brighter.

That's all many people want. To give, to spread joy, to lessen the burden. With cancer, there's precious few ways one can do that. People will want to help you. Letting them is the best way to thank them.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." - Melody Beattie

1 comment:

  1. Susanne, I loved this post! You are so right about accepting help. When I was going through treatments, I wanted to pull myself up by my own bootstraps (and I had to, for my then-husband wouldn't help), and I had a hard time asking for help. Accepting offered help or even asking for help is key. Thank you for your insightful post.