Protect my spirit from contamination and limit my time with negative people. Cancer is full of side effects but there are some unexpected side effects I experienced and it’s the outpouring of love and support from friends and family and also learning how to come to terms with those who are absent. You would think that when you’re going through the toughest and darkest time of your life that friends and family would rally around and give you an abundance of support and love but this isn’t always the case.
I’ve talked to many cancer patients and survivors and they all have the same sad story of friends and family who couldn’t step up when they needed them the most, and for some of them the relationships are irreparably damaged. I too have experienced this confusing and heartbreaking side effect first hand and it’s not easy to deal with especially when I’m trying so hard to limit negativity and stress in my life.
There are the people who you least expect to see by your side who surprisingly become your strongest cheerleaders. For us it’s been the friend who made buckets of soup to pop in the freezer for nights when my mister can’t face cooking or a friend who comes on Christmas day with gifts and a beaming smile or the mother of my son’s mate who turns up with hand cream for my dry skin and cakes for the boys because she worries that they might be missing my home baking.
The wife of my misters work mate who’s become a dear friend, she checks in regularly and champions all that I do. They’ve taken us out for meals to beautiful restaurants where we have laughed and indulged in normal intelligent adult conversation which allows us to escape our cancer world and we enjoy just being Jenni and Craig.
Then there is the friend who’s moved enough to come and visit when she hears of my diagnosis and delivers chicken noodle soup when I do a shout out for some on Facebook. We’ve let our friendship wane in the past but now she picks me up and takes me to the beach so I can feel the warm sun on my face and enjoy a coffee and a natter.
There’s another friend who makes boxes of Christmas treats like Florentines and rocky road because she knows how important it is to have something in the pantry when people drop in, they came in handy and were delicious. Finally there are our constant friends who we expect to count on and know they will be there through thick and thin. These are the friends who resolve to do whatever is necessary to get us through this awful time.
Flowers fill my home and every morning there’s text and Facebook messages of encouragement and support from dear friends. I’ve been surprised by who has reached out and who hasn’t. I’ve heard from friends who have been absent from my life for a while and we reconnect like time has never passed.
We’ve even had people who were previously acquaintances knock on my door to deliver a hot home cooked meal and wish us well. Some people approach me in the street to tell me they are thinking of me and wishing me well. Good friends get over their own fears and visit regularly bringing nutritious lunches to share, baking for the boys and filling our freezer. Some come with natural hand creams, wheat bags, healing crystals, my favourite chocolates and their caring nature.
A dear friend took home an assortment of ingredients and turned them into nutritious meals for the family; she filled my freezer with lasagne, stews, mini quiches, soups, shepherd’s pie and baked goodies for the boys. These are the meals that help on the nights when there is nothing in the pantry or when my mister is too dog tired after work to think about cooking, even more special as she works hard all day as a chef and then comes home to cook for us. Now that’s love.
I have another dear friend who has 3 very young children but she found the time to cook for us on more than one occasion even though her days are already super busy. She arrives with the whole package of fresh salad and herbs from her garden, a main meal with dessert, and includes the little touches like sour cream and paprika. It’s such a relief to be able to sit down to a home cooked meal and not have to think about anything.
A girlfriend who is clever with a Janome made me a wheat bag and a small, zippered clutch which she filled with travel size hand cream, hand sanitizer, lip balm and gourmet lollies to help with the metallic taste that chemo brings. I carry this clutch with me every day and whenever I catch a glimpse of it in my bag I am reminded of her generosity and thoughtfulness.
Then there’s those who donated to my fundraisers or entered fun runs for me and with me, wow what a show of support. Cheerleaders also came in the form of businesses who donated prizes for fundraisers, sometimes when people feel helpless this is a way they can help.
Thank God for cheerleaders, they all gave me strength and lifted my spirits at exactly the right time. They made me feel worthy, kept me sane and showed unconditional love.
Cancer took from me but also gave me gifts like cheerleaders and new friends. I’m definitely more confident now and roll the dice more often so I say “yes” when I have the opportunity to meet new people. Gone are the days where I sit safely in my comfort zone, now life is for living and I don’t want to waste any of it. I truly believe these people are in my life to enrich it and I’m in theirs to do the same. Hi 5 cheerleaders…you all rock!
What about you, do you have cheerleaders in your life? What’s the nicest thing they did for you?
Maybe you need a cheerleader?
Til next time,