Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Giving Back

Or helping yourself while you help others. After going through cancer, or other nasty medical misadventure, you are traumatized, and, as in the words of Arlo Guthrie:

"...you get injected, inspected, detected, infected, ..."

You do not have fun for many months as you watch your hair fall out, your blood counts go up and down. You also follow your tumor markers more than the stock market, try to figure out how to get rid of your 'chemo pallor', and lighten up any surgical scars. At the end you feel like you have been dragged through a swamp, up a mountain, and under the proverbial bus. 

You spend a lot of time trying to find the rumored "new normal" and crawl around dealing with PTSD. At the end, you are you again but not the same. There is a lot of coping involved and it doesn't end overnight.

Since my second cancer diagnosis I have spent more time trying to cope than I have ever done anything else in my life. One thing that has been very helpful for me, because of all the cancer crap I have had to deal with in my life, has been to give back and help other people who are coping with cancer - or just plain 'giving back'. 

In the past three weeks or so I have been connected with three people who are coping with cancer. They are completely disconnected from each other. But I am trying to help them cope. 

How can I help them? I am not a doctor. I am not a medical person at all and do not claim to have any medical or psych/social training. But I do have experiences to share. Most medical personnel have not been through cancer so they cant talk about it from my side of the street.

I can talk to them and help (I hope) them cope with what they are going through. I can help them find resources to give them more information (instead of listening to Dr Google or reading wikipedia). I am also living proof that someone can live through cancer twice. 

What does all that give me? It gives me the opportunity to stay connected with the cancer community. I can never ignore the fact I had cancer twice and those thoughts never leave my head. By helping others, I get a sense of satisfaction that I am doing something good, something that helps someone else. 

In addition, I am not trying to hide my real feelings about cancer by burying it some place where I don't talk about. I can't hide my cancer feelings so it does me a world of good to use them to help other people.

So if you have cancer, go find help if you need it, or if you can, go help someone else who would benefit. Do some good by giving back.

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