We humans are proud creatures. At least I am. Somewhere in the course of this sometimes crazy life of mine, I decided I could handle just about anything--all by myself. I could carry 3 bags of groceries and a kid in each arm and manage to get from the car to the house without dropping anything (or anyone)! Imagine that! I will confess that I was never a great housekeeper, but don't tell anyone, okay?
And then a couple of years ago, just as my kids were grown and the hubby and I were enjoying a mostly empty nest, the unthinkable happened. I got cancer. And it rocked my world--our world. And then it rocked it some more right about the time I realized that I couldn't keep doing what I'd been doing, not without help anyway. And that was one of the hardest things to accept. Ever.
I understood the day after my first surgery, when I got to go home just how much help I was going to need from my family, and especially my husband. Large melanoma removed from my back; complete axillary dissection under left arm (all lymph nodes gone) complete with a drain sticking out of my chest, and last but not least a skin graft from my thigh to close the wound on my back. I was one hot mess. There were stacks of dressings and adhesive tape in the bathroom. And fresh pajamas and sheets in piles upstairs. Of course, I couldn't climb those stairs; not without help. Gulp. The wife/mom/superwoman side of me was not ready for this. My husband was changing my dressings and helping me get into the shower, because I couldn't do it alone. Then treatment started, and he was right by my side every weekday for 20 treatments, followed up by a year of at home treatments 3 times a week that rendered me an exhausted mess. And my kids were going to the grocery store. And my sisters and friends were always, without fail, there for me. And my co-workers too. From arranging for my windows to be washed to sending a gift card so my grandkids could go bowling. All to help me. So I'm sitting here in tears now thinking about how much harder all of this would have been without the help of the amazing people in my life, and I'm truly grateful to every single person who sent a card or called, or lent a hand in any way. You've all made my life so much easier, and I thank you.
Having cancer and learning that you NEED to accept help when it is offered to you is an incredibly humbling experience. It's not that you don't value the people in your life if you don't have cancer, but when push comes to shove and you find out just HOW MUCH people truly love and care for you, well, that's just amazing. It's the one thing that cancer has given to me. Insight into what really matters.
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