There were two times in the cancer journey when I had to wave the white flag and ask for help. This week was the third time. I swear sometimes it just hits me like a ton of bricks. I think most would assume that I’d be celebrating every single day with being in remission and I was for a while. My frustrations rest in being out of the let’s go kick some ass spirit, the cancer routine, and the trying to find the new me. I became a little lost. Early on in my cancer journey I was very against going to any cancer support group, didn’t need it, didn’t want it, and I was not that type of person. Guess what, I AM THAT TYPE OF PERSON.
I texted my husband mid-day Tuesday and said, “I need to go and try a cancer support group, the group support is tonight at 6pm if you think you can make it home by then for me to go.” My husband made it. I think he knew before I did that I needed something different, something more. I walked in to see two quotes on a white board and a group of people all sitting in a circle. Yep, I was doing this. I quickly grabbed my seat, read the quotes and then reread them, looked up and thought to myself, I should have done this sooner.
“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.” – Pema Chödron. This resonated with me. I have not been the kindest person to myself. I have become very critical of myself, like any good woman out there. Truth be told I haven’t felt like I’ve been doing anything well and being kind to myself was top on that list. We had to share about the things we do to show kindness to ourselves and I couldn’t hardly think of a damn thing to share. The only thing I could come up with was my secret indulgence of Chinese food Fridays. I have a place that is what I would assume Cheers would have felt like. Everybody knows my name! They pour me a glass of wine the minute I step in the building. Then, I order my food and sit back to relax and enjoy my wine. I am completely relaxed and ready for the weekend by the time my food is ready. Everyone else in the room had great things like three things they do daily, getting their nails done, to reminding themselves to never use “should of” in their vocabulary. I had Chinese food. I am sure I had a neon sign above my head at this point that said NEWBIE!
“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you that is greater than any obstacle.” -Christian D. Larson. This one brought tears to my eyes. The internal struggle that I have felt has been immense. The fear that I feel is overwhelming inside. The moments that I fear I will miss because of a relapse, the times I spend pondering this new life, and the moments I know will take a lifetime to build on. Am I greater than this obstacle? I am in remission. That should be enough, right?! Yet, here I am, waving the white flag. It is OK TO WAVE THE WHITE FLAG. IT IS OK TO ASK FOR HELP!!! I have been there, do not be ashamed, there is no ribbon in doing this alone. If you are doing this alone, you deserve a freaking medal, like a huge one!
When you are in the “fighter mode” you have very little time to think of anything else and that belief inside of you is STRONG. Afterwards once the dust settles a bit, not so much. Fear. Fear sets in. For me, I still don’t know how to handle that fear. I am learning, day by day. It’s a process for sure and I am not great at communicating it either, just ask my husband.
Some of you might be thinking, “why doesn’t she just take a Xanax?” I do that daily but I need something beyond medication. Sitting in that group and hearing others speak my language, that’s what my soul needed. When someone else said their spouse didn’t really get it. I wanted to clap my hands together and say, “A-freaking-men!” When others said that the gravity of everything didn’t hit them until after treatment. I cried. I believe that’s where I am at. Trust me when I say that I fell to the floor upon hearing the words, “you have ovarian cancer.” There were moments I never thought I would get up off that floor, but I did. I went into survival mode. I am left today with the aftermath.
The aftermath is a wave of destruction on self worth and a symphony of a new life. It is finding the new parallel between the two. It’s sleepless nights (like tonight), it’s euphoric adventures, and valleys so low you question everything inside of you. It is almost unexplainable to anyone that does not walk the cancer path. I can be laughing one moment, crying the next moment, with no explanation. Yet, in our society, we are taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness. I am here to tell you that it is a source of STRENGTH. I have never felt prouder of myself than I did sending the text to my husband telling him what I needed. He gave me grace, he responded that he would be there for me. Love is amazing, isn’t it!
We all need to give ourselves grace, the ability to wave a white flag, and the strength to do both. I was not allowing myself either and I was drowning. I kept a stigmatism in my head that I was stronger than a support group. I totally NEED that support group and I will welcome it into my life every Tuesday evening. I will never forget the broken me that showed up Tuesday evening that perused Trader Joe’s afterwards for some artisan bread and wine. I ate the whole damn loaf of bread and drank a few glasses of the wine, don’t judge. I so needed Tuesday evening, cancer support group, bread, and wine.
Raise those cabernet glasses and toast to strength, waving white flags, and the ability to know when to do so! Cheers to many more cancer support groups in my future!