Perception vs. Reality

One of the funniest things I find about when I tell someone that I’m a cancer survivor is when they tell me how incredible I am for beating it… Clearly they didn’t know me then.

I went kicking and screaming through treatment, surgery, and recovery (at some points, quite literally). There are all the levels of grief you go through during the process, but I set up housekeeping in “blind rage” and stayed there for at least a year afterwards (think rabid pit bull).

I was lucky, not skilled… Having a great support team, an amazing surgeon that looked like Doogie Houser, and just plain dumb luck (considering how long I knew about the mass behind my knee, damn lucky is a better way of putting it).

When you see someone going through treatment, understand that they are just everyday people that are going through a life changing experience that they sure as heck didn’t ask for. I certainly was no super hero (I am now, you should see my cape), but somehow got through it all. Don’t assume they have it together, even if that is how they are acting. Survivors need friends and support, even if it’s just a hand to occasionally hold.

Be that friend.

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50/50 Movie – A Users Guide to Surviving Cancer

I recently bought and watched the movie 50/50 and all I can say is “Wow! I needed that when I was diagnosed!” Now, I’m not saying that it’s 100% how I felt, but knowing that some of what this guy felt made me feel normal. When diagnosed, no one explained the emotional side of what you go through and how it changes you. Even when the doctor is explaining the diagnosis and how It’s heard is on the mark.

This movie touches on so many areas with humor, but you need to understand that it earns its “R” rating with a lot of language, but considering what is going on in this young man’s life, you kind of “get it.” Besides, I’m not one to swear (hate it for the most part), but after meeting my radiation oncologist with his god-awful bedside manner and him saying that 20 years ago, I’d have just lost my leg at the hip… I dropped the “F” bomb about the whole situation. To say I was under duress is a bit of an understatement. Face it, cancer sucks and people should allow for such things.

The humor of 50/50 will strike a note with many survivors… Your sense of humor tends to get a bit “whack” when going through treatment and let’s face facts, some of what you see in the movie has happened to many people. People bail on you because they can’t handle the diagnosis or some stay around just because they feel sorry for you, but there are those awesome individuals that will hold your hand while you scream in anger and laugh with you when you look back on it. They’ll smuggle you treats into the hospital and help you use your diagnosis to get out of events (yes, the guys admitted to doing this in the Special Features).

Speaking of the Special Features, you MUST watch them to meet the guy that was the inspiration for the movie. Seth Rogen actually stood by him through his cancer and their stories will make you smile all the more.

This is a great movie and will help any survivor realize that we all go through a process when we’re diagnosed and it involves all the emotions. That it’s also great to seek out help in dealing with these issues, but most of all it shows how a great friend can make the whole process go a lot easier…

Enjoy the movie and have a great week…

Here’s the movie website: http://www.50-50themovie.com/

 

Creating a Care Package for a Friend with Cancer

Putting together a care package for a friend with cancer will be one of the most wonderful gifts you can give. I’m speaking from experience and every little gift and card keeps your spirit going (I have each and every card and item seven years later). It doesn’t have to be elaborate because it’s the thought that counts, anyhow and it blesses regardless.

Here are some fun ideas, followed by a list of special items that help cancer survivors through their treatment.

1.       Lemon Drops—Helps settle stomach and with dry mouth… Just plain yummy.

2.       Mint Tea—Soothing and assists with digestion.

3.       Aquaphor—This is a must for those going through radiation. Helps with burn and the extremely dry skin.

4.       Silky Soft Scarf/Hat—Nice for those dealing with hair loss, especially when it’s cold.

5.       Stuffed Animal—Just something fun that ends up meaning a lot. Took mine with me for each surgery.

6.       Card—There are a number of nice cancer support cards available these days (Have seen them at both Hallmark and Walmart).

7.       Chocolate—Need I say more? Be careful if individual is having chemo, but if not, should be good to go!

8.       Puzzle Books—Something to do during treatment/recovery.

9.       Inspirational Books—There are a number of wonderful books on the subject matter. A personal favorite is Chicken Soup for the Survivor’s Soul.

10.   Trashy Novels—This is a matter of personal taste and could as easily be mysteries or whatever the individual prefers.

11.   CDs—Feel good music and or something soothing to help rest when needed.

These are just a few ideas, but put them in a nice little basket or gift bag and I guarantee you’ll have a winner.

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

Pardon???

Now tell me, if someone told you that you had Liposarcoma… Wouldn’t you be scratching your head, wondering what the heck they were talking about? I KNOW, ME TOO! Shoot, it sounds more like something that you pay to have done, than something that you get diagnosed with! Throw in the fact that I was diagnosed on Friday the 13th and you have the makings of some twisted joke.  Yep, that’s my life!

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a pleasant period of my life, but looking back I see the humor (I’m really sick and twisted that way). From the argument with the Operating Room nurse that included the whole head bobbing thing that I mock others for doing, to walking around with the ability to make water spray from my leg and actually saying that “I’m fine.” Yeah, I was an idiot, but a cute and entertaining one!

So when life seems bleak and without a boatload of hope, remember you can go further than you believe and when you look back, there will be moments that will make you smile.  If I can do it, anyone can.

“Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.”  ~Author Unknown