This is the email that I sent to friends and family when I was starting chemo, and it’s a good one. Just wanted to save it here for posterity.
Remember how I said this whole breast cancer adventure might be a long haul? On Thursday my dad and sister-in-law went with me to visit the oncologist, and the word is yes, I have to have chemo. For more info, see https://imaginebrightfutures.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/bald-by-mid-may-send-hats-scarves/.
To everyone, thank you for all the advice, the research help, the cards, emails, phone calls, bouquets of flowers, balloons, and the many many gifts, including a handknit blanket, soft pajamas, the 10 shirts that button in the front, the target gift card, a freezer full of meals, a stocked cupboard, a stocked fridge, a massage chair, books galore – thank you. And for those of you who took care of me after surgery, an extra thanks for your gift of time. And for those of you who made gifts of cash, my deep gratitude. I feel very supported and very loved.
I wish that I could say that that’s the end of needing help, but now comes the long haul – 16 weeks of chemo, possibly followed by 6 weeks of radiation. As my Dad said Thurs night, to quote my Aunt Nancy quoting Winston Churchill – “When you’re in the middle of hell, don’t stop. Keep on going.” The only way through this is through it, and I can’t get through it with denial – I have to be present to it, and though only I can walk this path, I’m not going through it alone.
Also, neither is this relatively brief (6 months all told I hope) experience my whole life nor my identity. The whole of my life is with you all, the things that I love to do, the people that I love, my talents, skills and gifts, the world around me that I know and the world I have yet to explore.
So while you all can help witness this journey and help me be present to it, pretty darn soon I’m not going to want to talk about it 24/7! My Dad put it this way, “Our job is to witness, and be there for you, but also to pull you out when you get in too deep, when it seems overwhelming.”
Maybe it’ll be a breeze and maybe I’ll have no problem doing that myself – but just in case I thought I’d pass that quote on, because it rings so true. He said further (to paraphrase), “Right now it’s your turn and all your circles of friends and family are helping you, but then the turn turns and it’ll be someone else’s turn, and then we’ll help them, and this is what we do.” To which I say amen and, to the tune of a Katya Chorover song, “This is how we live.”