Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My champions throughout this cancer treatment

I am thankful every day for the champions that are in my life. Some folks describe the angels that they have met since cancer entered their days - for me, it is the champions (who just might be angels, I will admit that). First, my immediate family - husband, son, and daughter. They not only put up with a mom/wife that was freaking out about a cancer diagnosis and treatment options, they continually treated me with love (and occasionally, with a lot of space). My son didn't quit school, despite the upheaval of a mom with cancer - he finished, and is in college. My daughter did not learn to be afraid of life despite seeing what one can get handed at times, and is now a representative of our culture living in Austria. My husband did not find my new appearance distasteful, and has fully lived up to the vow of "in sickness and in health". He still talks of our future together, which is a golden treasure to me. My parents, suffering along with me as their child going through pain and the unknown - continue to love me, encourage me, and celebrate my growth in these new and different areas. My extended family have made contact with me electronically and regular mail, keeping in touch and letting me know they are thinking of me. Folks, that is so valuable - the smallest card means so much.

Next would be my work family. Even when presented with prime opportunities to talk with others about what I have been going through, they respect my silence, keeping the cancer in the background (as much as any of us can). I am as accepted as I was before, with a complete lack of pity or revulsion at being the one to bring cancer to our small group. After all, these are the wonderful people that gave me my iPod, that thing that has kept me saner than I would have been without it through music, audio books, and good movies. The extended family at work also seems to allow the cancer and crap that goes with it to recede in the background, keeping true work topics at the forefront. A pretty good trick of these professionals, since a lot of those I work with are my care givers, and have seen me 'outside of my work clothes', so to speak.

And my friends - there's a legion of champions. With dirty jokes, clean jokes, something funny in the email, an ear to listen to the latest gripe, or trips out to change the mood and/or scenery, my friends are also my champions. To the ones that bought the hairpiece after the latest surgery - I can just about wear it now, and will put a picture in here on your behalf. To the ones that have bought me dinner out - I am looking forward to more with you, and soon! To the ones that took me to see plays so I could act like a true grownup and not an invalid - a standing ovation to you, and the hope that we can go out together again. To the ones I have only met online - here's to us meeting in person soon, so I can give you a proper champion-worthy hug.

Another set of champions I may never meet - the ones with adenoid cystic carcinoma that has crept back into their lives and won't leave. They keep on keeping on, despite the failed attempts to stop the cancer. They are the ones I watch, and hope to live as successfully as they do when my time comes.

I have heard stories at support groups that describe cancer patients with lives that have few champions - spouses or significant others that leave at the cancer diagnosis; bosses that refuse to give any 'extra' consideration once one has cancer; family members that shun the cancer patient, thinking it is catching or that they don't have time to care... really bad stories, the worse because they are true. Thank all that is good that I have not experienced this at all. And now that I am all better again, I hope I can pass the goodness I received from my champions on to someone else that needs one in their life.

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