Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Outlet

Let me begin by saying this blog will be one long, rambling post.  I have a lot to get out there and it's a bit jumbled.  Bear with me.

Last week Hans found out that one of our friends and coworkers has cancer.  While that means that a lot of my attention is now being turned to her, I'm shocked to find that it's also causing me to focus more attention on myself.  So, even though she has cancer and that's all about her, I've decided the best way for me to vent and reflect might be to use this blog.

You see, I could go into all the details, but that's not my story to tell.  All I can tell is how I'm feeling now, how I felt at hearing the news news.  The first thing I'm feeling is guilt for trying to make this about me.  It's not about me...or is it?  Cancer doesn't just affect the one person who has it.  If that were the case, there wouldn't be so many fundraisers or support groups.  Yet still, I feel guilty for even thinking I might be able to relate to what she's going through or even try to begin to understand what she's feeling.  She's crying over losing her hair, I'm crying because I can't imagine what being in that position would be like.  She's trying to regain and maintain some control over her life, I'm trying to figure out what I can do to help and still maintain my sanity.

Now, I'm sitting here wondering what should I do.  What CAN I do?   I don't want to be too pushy, but I also don't want to leave her to do everything and wondering if she can ask for help.  The talks that she and I have had recently have really helped, and I'm trying to teach myself to be patient.  I guess what I'm really wondering is: Is it alright for me to turn to the cancer patient for guidance?  Is it right for me to say, "I know what you're going through is hell, but I'm lost.  Help!"  What kind of support system is that?  How can I help if I'm only saying, "hold my hand"?

Maybe that's why I'm writing this post.  Honestly, I'm not quite sure.  I know I need another way to vent than to just talk to Hans or B.  I know I'm not entirely comfortable broaching the topic with Hans' coworkers for fear of sounding like a gossip.  I'd love advice.  I'd love for someone to want to talk to me, even if the conversation is just both of us saying that we have no f**king clue what to do.  Do two clueless people come together to form one partially clued-in person?

First of all, thank you to B for being so understanding of Hans telling me, but even more importantly thank you for tolerating all my questions so far.  I'm trying to research as much as I can, but I still need you to tell me what you like and what you want (what you really really want).  Thank you to anyone reading / understanding what I'm trying to say in this blog.  I know this whole post has been a rambling mess.  I just needed an outlet.  I needed to express how I felt and get it off my chest.  Thank you for listening.


  1. I've thought about this for a few days. First of all, everyone is different so you'll have to feel it out a bit yourself. However, I have a few suggestions.

    1. Ask questions. Ask how they are doing? What is going on with treatment? If there is anything they need? Give them permission to say no, but always ask. It isn't helpful to tiptoe around.

    2. Do "normal" things with them. Take them to a movie, for ice cream, play games, watch dumb tv.

    3. Bring food over, offer to coordinate the many people trying to help. Offer to help write thank you notes.

    4. Be honest with them about your emotions. Tell them it is hard for you and how much you care. And then...let it go, ultimately you don't want to make them feel like they need to support you in this difficult time.

    5. And when it gets too much commiserate with other people, work with them to plan cool things and special treats. Consider doing a cancer walk with friends in their honor.

    Does this help at all? I'm sorry for you and Hans and your friend.