How Can I Support? What Cancer Fighters Find Truly Helpful

I spoke to a friend the other day who was looking for real, tangible ways to help a friend who had recently been diagnosed with cancer. He wanted to help but wasn’t sure where to start- what was too much, and what was actually useful. It can be difficult to find the words, and sometimes the fear of saying the wrong thing shuts us down. Believe me, I UNDERSTAND! Even as the wife of a cancer fighter, searching for helpful things to do or say is not always easy. Sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest impact. I shared with my friend the acts of support we most appreciated and found most meaningful, and then I decided to ask a larger group of cancer fighters what they would add to the list. Every person copes in their own way and likes/dislikes different things, but here are some ideas that might open the door for you on your mission to support.

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Why a Second Opinion Changed Everything For Us

Tommy started treatment (again) this morning. The past week has been a tough one, especially mentally, as we prepared for this next round. Gearing up to fight a battle you thought you won is not for the faint of heart. You’re tired, frustrated, angry, but have to get back in the game. I didn’t know what to expect from today, but I can promise you, I did not expect to feel light, supported, and overjoyed…but I do.

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Why 2+2 Does Not Equal 4, and Other Things I've Learned After a Year in the Cancer World

Yesterday we had a few preliminary appointments as we begin this new clinical trial journey. Tommy was poked and prodded as they conducted scans, blood tests, and EKGs. I sat in the lobby holding his coat with the other caregivers. As I looked around the room I saw the familiar determined anxiety on their faces that I have felt the past year. We are always the youngest people in the office, but I feel like a veteran at this point. I think it must be the timing, but it feels like we’re gearing up to begin ‘second semester’ after a holiday break. We’ve rested, prepared, and completed all the winter assignments, but we would really rather stay home.

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Did Cancer Push PAUSE or FAST FORWARD?

I’ve been having one of those weeks where I feel like I’m not doing enough. I don’t mean on a daily to-do list scale, but on a BIG PICTURE LIFE scale. I just had a birthday, and it was an undeniable reminder that time keeps rolling along, no matter what life is asking of us.

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Survivor Struggles: The Post Treatment Mind Game

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I wanted to take the opportunity to speak out about the mental mine field that survivors and their care givers face post-treatment. When we think about cancer, we often focus on the physical struggles: nausea, pain, hair loss, surgeries, scars. But, the unseen struggles can often be more debilitating than the visible ones.

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Step 1: Get Up Off the Floor

I'm often asked how we stay positive through the difficult days. This question always takes me back to a specific moment where I found my self sobbing in a ball on our bathroom floor. Not quite the image of optimism or strength, but it's where it started.

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Gratitude and Moving Forward

In the wake of the overwhelming support and encouragement we have received this week after HeartThreads Docs shared our story on Facebook, I have been pulled into reflection on the year we have had. Some days it's easy to wake up and feel like it never happened. Some mornings the unseen marks on our minds and hearts show up a little deeper. Sometimes I feel like I've fully processed the fears and stresses we experienced, but most times I feel like I haven't even begin to see the impact that has been made.

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Crossing the Finish Starting Line

Tomorrow is the six month anniversary of Tommy's diagnosis. I won't share the statistics connected to this feat because they make me queasy, but just know, this is a HUGE milestone for esophageal cancer. We've been fighting for six months, and most days now it feels like we've beat it. He can eat normally, is working like crazy, and even performed in an Off-Broadway show this past weekend (it's unreal I know, he's a superstar).

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When You Can't Check It Off

I'm the kind of person who loves making lists. I love the feeling of completing a task, and checking it off. It's finished. I don't have to think about it again. I become very one track minded in my quest to complete a goal. I do not like to rest until a project is finished in every way. 

Cancer is not like that.

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Jessica Walker
Scanxiety

The scan seems to hold your fate. Did the tumor shrink? Has it returned? Are lymph nodes lighting up? Will you need another round of chemo? Did the surgery work? It can be maddening. It’s not uncommon for people with cancer to develop PTSD because of this anxiety. I can absolutely see why.

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Being a 'Cancer Wife'. Can't I Just Be a Regular Wife?

I am still trying to figure out what it means to be a wife. What does it look like? What does it feel like? How can I serve this marriage, and how can this marriage serve me? I had less than two months before the term “newlywed wife” turned into “chief caregiver”. 

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The Hearts Behind BETTER

Our newlywed story looks a little different from most. If you made your way to this blog, it's possible yours does too. Different is not bad. Different can be powerful, strengthening, binding, and illuminating (albeit frustrating, confusing, and often, tough). 

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