Here is something to try for Teens

I lived with 5 boys when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  My youngest just turning 12.  One way boys cope is to ignore.  It is often easier to pretend awful experiences don’t exist.

Here is a solution.  The “pillow journal.”  Use an inexpensive school notebook or an artist notebook or journal.  Begin a journal entry telling your child you want to talk with them about cancer, but since this subject may be too hard to discuss in person, you both can use this journal to talk to each other as much as you want; about thoughts and fears.

Leave it on their pillow and ask them to place it back on yours when they write in it.  You may only be the one writing for awhile. But don’t give up.  At least you are acknowledging them and their fears.  They may act tough, but they are frightened too.

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Angel Class

Be a Check-er-inner,

The house was quiet.  I sat on the bedroom floor, my back leaning against my bed surrounded by Kleenex’s. The tears were flowing.  The phone rings.  I hesitate…. but answer.

” Hi, just checking to see how you are…”

  If you can’t think of anything to do  for your cancer survivor…check in!  I still, after 3 years, have my dear  angels who check in to ask.  I still  have those crying moments and they make it so much better.  I feel loved and not so alone!  (Thank you CQ and PW)

THE NEWS!

Dear One,

You just got off the phone.

You have received the news.

News you never ever wanted to hear.

Someone you know has the “C” word.

You heard it but it could not be real!

It can’t be.

How you must feel…

I know.

I felt it too.

You are numb.  In shock!

You may want to cry.  You may feel nothing.

You may want to hit something or scream out loud.

You put your hands to your face and bow your head with a huge sigh.

NO!  It can’t be Cancer!

“What do I do now?”

This is the question to be answered from this blog.

Come sit and let us hold on to one another.

This is not only for the newly diagnosed.

It is for the neighbor who wants to know how to help a little.

A friend who wants to know how to help a lot.

A child who feels something is wrong but does not understand and wants to know how to help.

A husband who does not know how to comfort.

A parent trying to make it easier for their child.

A brother or father who does not know how to talk about it.

I am a cancer survivor! I have worked very hard to get through my cancer experience using my own gifts, talents, and survival techniques. I am not a therapist, but I am an expert on living through it.  This is a blog to share simple, uplifting tips and ideas with you and give you an invitation to share any uplifting ideas that helped you get through your journey.

 What do I do now on this first day?

Here is what you can do today…

Tip #1:  Be still and stay close to somone!

This is the beginning of one step at a time…

Here is a sweet tip–Be a Magic Dragon…

Several years ago, when I was living in Chicago, I read in the newspaper about a little boy who had leukemia.  Every time he was feeling discouraged or particularly sick, a package would arrive for him containing some little toy or book to cheer him up with a note saying the present was from the Magic Dragon.  No one knew who it was.  …His parents thought the Magic Dragon… would come forth and reveal him or herself  But that never happened. After hearing the story, I resolved to become a Magic Dragon whenever I could and I have had many occasions.  (So sweet)

(Random Acts of Kindness by the Editors of Conari Press)

I choose to save my children, their children, their children and theirs….Mural

[Kslideshow]

Dear One,

No one can face cancer without feeling terrified.  I don’t care how together, how intelligent, how independent, how tough or even how prickly you are.  You may be an expert at faking it—but you are doing just that!

My advice that I didn’t always take and often wished I did:  Don’t face any part of this alone.  If you are like me, an introvert, just know that there are people who want to help. Here are people to call and tell as soon as you know!

1. Rely on family, neighbors, and friends.

2. Call your church

3. Cancer support groups are everywhere.  Go to cancer sites and give them your area.

4. Talk to your oncologist or surgeon, or primary care.

The hardest part of being the one with cancer is allowing people to help you.  It is SO much easier to serve others!  But as you read my blog you will see how you can do just that even as the one with cancer.  Remember how it feels to serve someone.  Give that to someone else when you need it, by allowing them to help you too.

Very first advice for those without cancer

1. A person diagnosed with cancer does not have leprosy. It is not contagious! Because of our fears, not knowing what to say, our superstitions or for what other reasons, often we want to keep a distance from a cancer survivor so cancer won’t penetrate our world. ( I lost some acquaintances, which I thought were friends, because I learned I had cancer and they became afraid of me and still are.)

2. If you want to help, don’t treat the cancer survivor like they are a big black wad of cancer walking around or that cancer is the only thing they want to talk about. They really like other subjects and will love you if you bring other things up to talk about too.  Yes, they will need to vent or receive support, but they also want to be a person, not just a person with cancer.

3. Don’t ignore them especially when they look different. You don’t have to pretend they are not bald when they are.  Ask them how if feels? Tell them you feel weird. They feel you are struggling–and they are struggling too! Be honest and use humor to break the ice.

4. Do not try to connect by telling them about the dog, the mother, the whoever you knew who had cancer…and died!  Wow, thanks for sharing that with the person who just found out they had cancer! Telling them someone died and then catching yourself by saying…Oh that won’t happen to you!”  This does not make the situation better. If you don’t know what to say, just say, I am here anytime to just be with you.

5. After you hear about your friend or family member and  you come home and sit with your family and say, “Wow that is so terrible,…. please pass the mash potatoes.”  Yes life does go on for you.  For the cancer patient it does too, but in a new way from what the old life was.  Don’t forget that that person a week, a month or even a year after still needs to have a simple recognition that you continue to have them in your prayers.  They need to have constant support from anyone who will give it sincerely.

6.  Something that I will re-comment on often.  The very best thing a person can do for a cancer survivor is PRAY for them.  And tell them you are.  IT IS POWERFUL AND THEY WILL FEEL IT!

TIP:

Call to Action: 

 #1:  Set up a care calendar for your cancer survivor when they know what their schedule is for any surgeries, chemo therapy, radiations or the thousands of appointments they will have to go to. This allows friends to sign up through the internet. (Spouses let your close friends or family do this and take this away from you!) (Thank you JH for this tip and LS who did it for me.)

We used carecalendar.org. This is the most fantastic, amazing, wonderful way for people to sign up to bring dinners, help with child care, sign up to help with rides or any other items that are requested by the person or family going through cancer. You can keep it dormant for awhile if the person with cancer has a break in between treatments or surgeries. You can request many different things, even dinner types.  Calendarcare sends e-reminders, and you can access quickly through the internet without having to talk to anyone.   Remember if you go through any type of internet care system and they ask for a donation, please send a few dollars to help their costs.  This was the biggest lifesaver for me with four big starving sons and a very tired husband at home trying to get through with a sick mother.  We received so many delicious meals. (Thank you my angels!)

#2:  Ask the spouse or Partner if you can create a blog for the cancer survivor.  This will save the spouse as well as the cancer survivor from not having to receive too many calls at this time.  It is very exhausting and emotional when you have to tell the updates over and over.  And it is often more comfortable for friends when you want to know how the cancer person is doing but feel strange calling.

For Spouse or Partner

 Dear Spouse/Partner,

You have received the shock of a lifetime now that the person you love has cancer. You will not be in the limelight but will be in charge of holding everything together.  This is a huge task!  You will be the very leaning post that your cancer survivor will depend on for most everything.  It will be quite overwhelming.  Take some time to stay quiet yourself. You need to especially take care of you because everyone will depend on you to make things as normal as possible.  Communicate with loved ones or have them begin a blog for you so you only have to tell one person and they can tell everyone else. When you research be sure you use the designated sites for cancer information.   Write down and ask as many questions as you can think of.  Keep records and take  a notebook with you at every appointment.  Go with your partner to as many doctors appointments as you can.  Write everything down and ask for records.  Take one day at a time.  We can do this…together.  I hope I can help even a little.