Also known as how I’m handling cancer, chemo, motherhood, marriage, and a move—all at once.
Community. Find a community, they say. Find someone who gets you—a support network that can help when you need it the most. Boy are they right! Community is what has saved me during this breast cancer journey. My support network has played a critical role in helping me handle cancer, chemo, motherhood, marriage and a move—all at once.
My community starts with my husband, Chris, and my kids. Never has in sickness and in health meant more. And it’s no lie marriage is hard. Throw in a cancer diagnosis and it can get tough. But man oh man, are the good times great. I wouldn’t be where I am at in my breast cancer journey—or in life—if the good didn’t outweigh the bad. Time after time, the love from my husband and smiles of my children (and yes, some drugs, which I’m longer on) pulled me out of that dark place cancer can take you. No matter what you think about your spouse not being able to understand, they will be there for you in so many other ways. To give you that physical shoulder to cry on when you need it the most. And let’s be honest, that shoulder is sometimes all you need.
Did I mentioned motherhood is hard too? But despite having people in my life to support me, it’s been a struggle to realize that I can’t do everything by myself. As moms, I think we always want to do everything ourselves. But as much as I try, I just can’t. I need help. And honestly, that has been the hardest thing for me. It always has been. But what helped the most was knowing I was part of this #momlife community that had words of advice, especially at 3 a.m. You other moms know what I’m talking about. When all you want is a judgement-free zone and have others cheer you on when you just ask your four-year-old to go check on your two-year-old; or you served cheerios for dinner so you could enjoy a hot bath and wine without interruption. You know you’re not alone. And that’s all you need.
Community through motherhood? Check.
Learning to Accept Help
If I’m being honest, it’s been very hard for me to ask for help ever since my parents passed away. Thankfully, my husband’s parents have been there for us whenever we needed it. In that way, I have been lucky. My in-laws are there to show me what makes their marriage (and family) work. And I have my married friends—a small group of people who are on the same spiritual journey as Chris and I. You need these people.
Community through marriage? Check.
But finding a support network for cancer and chemo? Um. That was another story. I’m the only one dealing with this, right? So how can other people help me? No lie—that’s exactly how I felt about my cancer diagnosis. Then again, I had little to lose. So after I pulled myself off the floor and dried my tears, I reached out to the community I kept hearing was out there.
They showed up in full force. Without even knowing me. Complete strangers, from states and countries far away, filled my phone, Facebook page and Instagram direct messages with camaraderie. That’s what cancer does. You’re now a part of a club that you didn’t want to be invited to. But sister, when you get there, you’ll be lifted up in ways you never thought were possible.
Make sure to read the rest from my HealthCentral column Tales From The Chemo Chair: Building My Support Network Through Breast Cancer