Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cancer Question #3

The third question most people ask me is how can they help me. I like most people I first responded by saying "Oh, everything is fine; I don't need your help at this time." Well, since I have joined the cancer support group I've learned that that is not the right response.

People don't know what you need but they do want to feel apart of your struggle so letting them help is not only a blessing for you but for them I'm learning. And you need to be specific and tell them what specific thing might be something nice that they can do for you. And allowing your friends to do something makes your friends and family feel very useful and supportive. So I'm slowly learning to graciously say, "Well, now that you have offered there is one small thing you could do for me if it is not too much trouble." (Now when was the last time I said that to anybody except Jack? Probably a million years ago.)

How am I learning to accept help graciously? By listening to these two wonderful ladies below.

Here's Joann Murchison who heads The Road to Recovery for both major hospitals in Prince William County, namely Potomac Hospital on the east side of the county and Prince William Hospital in Manassas on the west side of the county as well as for the Fauquier County Hospital in Warrenton, VA. Joann herself is no stranger to cancer. She was one of the main providers for her brother's wife who reached after many years her final stages with breast cancer.

One of the big events that Joann heads up is the annual Relay For Life each June at the Manassas Fair Grounds to celebrate the lives of those with cancer, those who provide help for cancer patients and to remember those who have died from cancer disease. The Relay For Life for 2010 will be June 5 and June 6. I'm planning to attend and to participate. Great timing since June 5 is my birthday and my chemo treatments should be finished by then.

Here's Robin who teaches the Cancer Support Class at Lake Manassas. She is a lupus survivor, a nurse and psychiatric hypnotist. She is so upbeat and she has a ton of info to pass on to each cancer patient about keeping well in mind and body. She concentrates her efforts on the whole patient and has speakers come to the support sessions to speak on the five sides of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual.
I like this print that I found on the wall of the center.
It sums up all the wonderful people I have discovered at this cancer center.

In closing I want to introduce you to one exceptional cancer patient who has inspired me this past week. This is Ashleigh. She is in her early forties although she looks like about 25 and she has been doing chemo for breast cancer. Ashleigh is married and has three children, a son who is a high school senior, another son who is in kindergarten and a daughter who is in middle school. When the chemo started to cause Ashleigh to lose her hair she asked her three kids to shave her head and they did so with love and compassion.
Ashleigh in this photo is grading language arts assignments. Yes, this strong woman is continuing to teach middle school language arts while fighting breast cancer. And she had gotten her students envolved in her cancer life. Each Friday they vote on the color wig they want her to wear the next week to class. Ashleigh says the students love this brown shoulder length wig but hate her blond wig. Go figure that one out.
Not all the patients are women. Here's a macho man who stopped by on the way to his job for a little infusion chemo. Debbie is the infusion nurse attending to his needs. Had to get a man in my story. LOL!


Patty said...

The set up you have looks a lot like the set up at Sam North over in Englewood.

Again, good luck with the treatments. And it is hard to ask someone for help, because we think we can do it all. LOL

Denise said...

You've met some amazing and wonderful people Joann. This is a great post. We can all learn something from it, one of them being how to ask for help because I think that is one of the most difficult things to do at the best of times. And by the way, if you ever need a volunteer to take you back and forth on those sessions, I don't live so far away. If you ever find yourself in a bind just let me know and I'll tootle on over :)