Awesome Cancer-Coach Extraordinaire

08Feb11

I’ve been meaning to do this post since I got out of the hospital after my neck dissection in May- but haven’t managed to find a good time… well y’all, here it is!

For those of you going in for a neck dissection I have a packing list of things you absolutely need to bring for your hospital visit:
-neck pillow (semi-circular ones that look like toilet seats)– don’t be cheap, get yourself a good one, you won’t regret it
-spray shampoo- guess who won’t be taking a shower until their bandage is removed? You!
-for the ladies:  a good, comfortable strapless bra
-lots of movies that aren’t so funny that you’ll laugh out loud, but at least some that will cheer you up
-mango juice- general anesthesia is no friend of your intestine
-scarf with pockets to cover up the bandage and the pockets for your drains
-extension cord for your computer or electronic devices- bending over or struggling with cables is no fun and no job for the poor nurses
-sippy cup- depending on how many nerves were severed, you might have some trouble initially with drinking without slobbering all over the place
-really really great friends who show up even if you look like a zombie and bring you your favorite foods and make you laugh (it hurts, but it’s worth it)

And as your cancer aunt, I would suggest to you, if you were just diagnosed, go to a support meeting!  It might seem stupid– you don’t have to tell anyone you went there– but go, and either you will be helped by the people, or, if you can’t relate to them at all, you can at least see the different faces of cancer and pull things into perspective.  Learn to laugh about your cancer– if you have a big scar like me, you’ll tend to get questions, but use the opportunity… use it to talk about your disease to a complete stranger, dump your feelings on them- tell them how scared you are.  The best part is, you probably won’t cross paths again and your secret is kept.  After a while, rest assured, the strong need to tell random strangers that you’re sick and scared will have probably passed, and you can begin with the humor.  Well, say, what’s that big scar?  I gotta ask.  My, thank you for asking, I got into a fight with some malignant cells– guess who won?

Keep positive… yeah, it’s bound to happen that one day you’ll wake up and feel like never leaving the house.  Things hurt and you feel like shit.  It happens to the best of us, but eat some chocolate, watch a good movie, order pizza, call your best friend.  But the next day, go out, and go on as if nothing ever happened.  Let the bad days be bad, but don’t let them ruin a week or a month or a lifetime.

Don’t worry about your weight.  Dance more!  I mean, come on, you’re a cancer patient– nobody is going to hound you about having gained a few pounds- in fact, you might even get some compliments.  Don’t fret- just do a bit more.  If you’re like me, I love to dance, but I think I look ridiculous doing it!  So I close the curtains and have my own little dance party alone while cleaning up, or I’ll play a computer game that tracks my steps.  Do something to move around a bit, even if you’re shy.

Oh, and get some cancer friends.  Other people to whom you can rant to if you’re feeling down or if something’s going on that your healthy friends or even partner don’t seem to be understanding.  The cancer patients can help you tremendously- in that they can give you insight on how they handled similar problems, or even just act as a kind ear.

Just don’t go through it alone, get some virtual friends if you have to,  take a deep breath, and buckle your seat belt.  It will be a journey.

-Hungry

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4 Responses to “Awesome Cancer-Coach Extraordinaire”

  1. 1 Ainslee

    Christ on a cracker, child, your courage amazes me. I’ll be honest; I skimmed through some portions of your blog, perhaps I will revisit them and read in depth, perhaps I won’t. I stumbled upon your blog after googling ‘thyroidectomy scar 3 weeks post op’, and there you were. Your photo led me to the blog, and your story downright fucking amazes me. Maybe it’s your down to earth approach to this whole mess, maybe it’s your candid and nonchalant conveyance of the story. Do you get tired of hearing others’ stories? I’ll make mine short: went to an ENT about vertigo, he found a lump on my thyroid. Week 2, blood tests and ultrasound.Week 3, needle biopsy. Week 4, follicular neoplasm tumor, classified inconclusive, and partial thyroidectomy required to remove/test the tumor. (That’s the part where the bottom dropped out for me–facing possible cancer diagnosis and the telltale scar). Week 7, partial thyroidectomy. Week 8, results benign. And here I sit at week 9, reading your story, which has surpassed mine in levels of tough by a thousand, and you’re still trucking. And although I’m still worried about things like new growths and yes, what my scar will look like at my 18th HS reunion this coming June, your story has helped me put things into perspective. Does that piss you off when people will lesser degrees of this disease say that? I don’t mean it to be offensive, I mean to say that you inspire me, your courage makes me want to be a stronger woman, and that if there be a god in heaven, let he/she/it stop testing your threshold for burdens!! I hope you know what a great service you’re doing by offering your experiences to others. I relied on the internet when I was first diagnosed, and found other people’s stories to be helpful with what to expect. (I didn’t expect them to take my underwear when I went in for surgery. That caught me off guard.) Just having this information available is a godsend for many people, though they may not take the time to thank you or bother to comment, just know that we’re out here, and we’re reading. And even though the remaining half of my thyroid had better get its ass in gear, start producing thyroid hormone, and keep free of any future growths, know that I will continue to follow your story, assuming you keep writing it, and will be rooting for you all the way.
    Yours truly,
    Ainslee–also a member of the Cutthroat Club. (Although I think members of the Dissection Club earn top honors in strength and bravery, and I salute you.)

  2. Thanks for updating – those of us further back down this cancer track appreciate it!

  3. 3 Troy

    Hey – love the practical suggestions. I’m going shopping for a neck pillow, extension cord and sipper cup! Been clippering my hair super short for a few months – so I might even go shorter to avoid shampooing.

    It’s summer, humid & hot here so maybe some modified cotton short-sleeve PJs would be handy – extra pockets for phone, remote & drainbag.

    T

  4. I seriously wish you best of luck but I am planning to do RAI as I dont want to leave a scar on my neck.


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