Tuesday 4 October 2011

What Can People Say?

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

As the week is passing by, I am reducing my pain relief considerably, and apart from my usual arthritic pain, I am enjoying the freedom from that dreadful bone pain I had prior to the radiation treatments.
Pain is the very opposite of all that is good in life.
It has the power to impair a brain's functioning. It drains your energy. It takes over your mind, your body, your thinking, your creativity.
Like the pains of childbirth, when it has stopped, the severity of it disappears somewhere into the unconscious mind and a little door is shut on it. It isn't until there is a repeat experience of it that you remember how awful it is again.

At present, I am just having to wait and see what happens next and try enjoy each day as it comes.
This doesn't come easily to me.... the born worrier.
Will IT come back?

However, each day is a gift of extra life...... a bonus.
All that I know is ..... that I feel things more intensely. My family and friends mean more to me than before. The sky, the garden flowers and colours all seem more intense than they did before. My freedom seems more important too and I am making plans to go to the singing group again and take trips to the sea.
Everything that isn't life threatening seems to be quite unimportant to me. I used to worry about the most ridiculous things. I wasted so much time doing this.

People, on the whole, seem to be friendly and supportive towards me. However, there are still some who feel terribly awkward when they spot me and would rather run into a shop than to have to say anything.
I feel it is better to risk not saying the right thing than to run away. I don't think there is a right or a wrong thing to say anyway. Just be yourself.

I don't think people find it easy to meet up with anyone who is having a close brush with death. I think its not in our culture. "If I don't have to talk about this, I don't have to face up to the problem of cancer."
They feel threatened when they get close to someone with persistent cancer. It makes them feel under threat too. "If this can happen to her, then it could happen to me. I'd rather not think about it right now."
It is a big problem. One only has to spend a short time in Oncology to realise just how common the problem is.
I hope by talking about it that I will help others to drop their barriers a bit, though much of the time I want to be treated as normal. I am Maggie, the same person as I have always been ..... I experience the same things as you and face the same fears as you.
I just happen to be battling cancer.
I don't always want to talk about it but sometimes I do because my whole life is so tied up with how it affects me and how it makes me feel.

One day it will get me but not yet. I have so many things I want to see.
I want to see my granddaughters at least get settled into Secondary school. I want to share in the joys of their new house. I want to be able to do things with them again.
Amber, my eldest granddaughter, on hearing that I had finished my treatment, said to me, "Oh good now you can start doing things with me again."
She knows that I have cancer and she also knows I've had a problem with a sore bottom. Goodness only knows what she has said at school. (Don't forget that I used to work there.)
Some people see me standing in the playground and look the other way. Some of them are work mates or parents I knew very well. They are not all like that though, by any means.
I often just open my arms and say, "Yes, I'm still here." That seems to break the ice and put others at their ease.
One person who I thought I knew extremely well said to me. How can you just keep acting normal when this is happening to you?"
Well my answer really is, "What else can I do? Do I just lie down and wait to die? It might take a long time and it would be a bit of a waste of time, don't you think?"

I am learning to laugh at this because it is a terrible problem and one that any body might have to face sooner or later.
So how about seeking out someone you know who might be battling cancer or any other disease (that people find difficult) that takes you out of your comfort zone?
You might make a difference in that person's life. More than you think.


Formerly known as Frau said...

I'm sorry you are having to write a post about this..the pain I only know is childbirth and I only did that once because of the pain. I hope if I act normal around the next person I know with this disease I agree the worse you can do is turn away. My heart goes out to you Maggie the strength you have. ((hugs))

CorvusCorax12 said...

i'm not familiar with this kind of pain either, but i would hope that i would never turn my face from somebody that has cancer. The not having any words is not new to me though because i feel that sometimes there are no words. Enjoy every minute with your precious grandchildren and family and i'm so glad to read that you are without this debilitating pain right now

Reasons said...

Oh Maggie. People are hopeless sometimes aren't they?? Their fear can seem positively medieval! I hope that this is a horrible episode in your life that will pass, that it won't 'get' you in the end and that you will be able to look back and say "My! That was shite!! Thank goodness it's all over." Becoming cancer free does happen for people, so it could happen for you. xxx

Rose said...

Thank you for this wonderful advice. I don't understand people who are fearful around someone with cancer, but I think many of us feel uncomfortable around someone who is dealing with a serious illness because we don't know what to say. I've often spoken to someone and afterwards second-guessed myself...did I say the wrong thing?? Thanks to you, I'll be sure to say something to that person just to let them know I care, whether it's the "right" thing to say or not.

Your attitude is inspiring; we should all forget those unimportant things in life and enjoy each and every day that God gives us! I hope you have many, many more to enjoy with your family, Maggie.

mrsnesbitt said...

maggie - as we say up North - people can be strange or People can be daft buggers! My goodness - what a star you are. Love you lots - you are indeed one lovely woman, so pleased I know you. My day is a better day because of you just now. Dxxxxx

Anonymous said...

Oh goodness, how can anyone possible say that? When life has been threatened like yours has (and mine over the last couple of years with my epilepsy though obviously not on the same scale as you), it really is not an option to just lie down and wait for the inevitable. We will all leave this journey one day, but whilst we're here we need to enjoy it as much as we can. Life is incredibly precious.

On a slightly different note, I have experienced the way people turn and walk away, how they remember they need to be somewhere, how they avoid you at the school gate or in town - because of Amy's condition. Some parents seem to think autism is catching. My daughter isn't perfect. But neither are theirs.

Take care, dear friend.
CJ xx

Suburbia said...

That's fantastic advice Maggie.


Suldog said...

Maggie, I'm awed by your wonderful attitude. You do try to keep the bright side in view, and that's something I admire greatly. My prayers for you continue, of course. God bless.

Expat mum said...

That brought tars to my eyes. It must be quite hurtful when people avoid you, even though you seem to be incredibly understanding about it. It's a bit like when you have a bereavement in the family and the people you thought were quite close don't even acknowledge it. Very strange.
Stray strong.

Expat mum said...

Tears, not tars! Sorry!

Dimple said...

You are right, Maggie, it is awkward, not knowing what to say. It seems easier to hide, but it is also not the path to use.

I am glad to know you, in a bloggy sort of way, and I pray that God will go beyond your wishes in blessing you.

Jeni said...

I used to provide transportation to an elderly lady from our church who just about drove me bonkers! She just worried incessantly about EVERYTHING and especially, about DYING! She would ask me, "Don't you worry about dying?" and I would tell her well a bit now and again but then, I put it out of my mind because there really isn't much we can do about it. It's going to get all of us one of these days." Not that I don't think about it and not that I don't want to stick around as long as is possible, but I just try to deal with it in the sense of it isn't exactly something we have TOTAL control over, that we may be able to postpone a bit by not using various substance, through exercise, weight loss and all the good stuff like that but even so, we can't change the fact that sooner or later, we're all gonna die. So I choose to think of it in a different manner. That woman though annoyed me so much, with her worries and reiteration of them that she became downright depressing for me to drive her around. It got to the point that I could feel myself slip-sliding, getting down and depressed over things that previously I'd been able to overcome. So, before she laid me low in a horrible depressed state of mind, I had to remove myself from taking her to her appointments. People often ask me if I am still sick, or when I was getting chemo or radiation, if I was sick and the thing to me was that no, I wasn't sick when perhaps I should have said I wasn't sickly. See pain from arthritis, doesn't register with me as being sick -it's a big annoyance, a pain in the behind (literal as well as figurative) but if I'm not running a fever, being totally nauseated, nose running like a broken spigot -things like that -then I am not "sick." Mental case maybe so, but physically ill, my mind says Nope, not sick! Much of what we all deal with is often mind over matter and you move on, do what you can, what you absolutely HAVE to do and try to put your thoughts in more pleasant places. It doesn't absolve pain completely but it does tend to lessen it somewhat by replacing the constant negative thoughts with more pleasant, more positive ones which then -well, does alleviate a lot. This is what works, much of the time, for me and I do believe Maggie, you try to uphold many of those same things in your dealing with cancer. It's not a nice thing to get slammed with it whether it be once, twice or several more times, but you just have to do what you know you have to do and keep plodding along. But it is such a relief when those annoying treatments are finished, isn't it?

Happy Frog and I said...

Maggie you tell it how it is and I love you for it. I found this post, like many of yours I have read, so moving. I have nothing but admiration for you and for your strength. x

Jackie said...

How wise you are, Maggie...and graciously sharing your wisdom with me (us.) I pray that the "little door" continues to remain shut for you. I pray that you see your Granddaughters settled into Secondary School...and more.
I thank you for sharing your words with me...helping me to remember to try not to worry about the little things (see, I too am a worrier..) Thank you, Maggie. I love you.

Sueann said...

Thank you for sharing! I have noticed that as well. People don't want to face death at all. And seeing some one with cancer just makes them want to run. Sad really! This is the time you should run towards that person and give them a hug and talk!!
Love you Maggie...and I am glad the pain is subsiding.
Enjoy your granddaughter...I sure enjoy mine!
Hugging you

Sally Wessely said...

Oh Maggie, this was just the most wonderful commentary on how to respond to those in our world who suffer from cancer or any other serious health issue. I think this should be required reading for a Social Skills 101. So many people just don't have any social skills. I find that people act the same way toward me since I lost my daughter to suicide. Suicide is also a topic which no one wishes to acknowledge or discuss. It is too uncomfortable.

You are inspirational in so many ways. I'm so thankful that you are living without pain. God bless.

Irene said...

I hope I'm always sensible enough to deal in the correct manner with people who have been struck down with cancer. What you said in this post made a lot of sense and is very helpful. I hope I would never exclude or shun someone simply because they're very ill. I will make it a point to be sensitive enmough in the future should the occasion arise. Thanks for that.


Bernie said...

Hello my friend, had you on my mind so thought I would check in with you. I am so sorry you have been through so much Maggie, but I was happy to learn your pain is so much better. You have informed your readers about a sensitive subject, this is a good thing. We all should be there for each other through happy times as well as a serious illness. How is Harry doing?
Sending big hugs and tons of prayers to a beautiful lady...:-)

Leilani Schuck Weatherington said...

What a lovely and profound post. I have tried to figure out if anything good -- anything good at all could possibly come from our son's death and all I can think of is that maybe what we have gone through can be of help to someone else. Your post has definitely encouraged me in that

Clare Dunn said...

Very well said!

Seeing the positives in a negative scenario is a skill many of us lack...but not you! And your quality of life is proof of the good of it!

Love, cd

Eddie Bluelights said...

I think your post is absolutely brilliant. Such spirit and fight - I am so proud of you. Yes, some peoplentend to react awkwardly, as we have found when they come face to face with Mrs Bluelights. But victims of this dreaded desease ARE the same people who happen to be extremely unlucky contracting it. It can happen to anyone - even those who shy away. Much better to try to act normally and both sides face it, as you have done. Will ring soon for a get together but I am super, super, super busy decorating the study and there is so much stuff I am falling over it as I go. A big clear out is underway and lots more storage space now made for what I want to keep. Looking a lot better already. Thanks for the support on the Sunday Roast - have a few helpers already. Luv Eddie x

Alyson | New England Living said...

Thank you for sharing this. I know you are helping people! It's so important for us all to learn to deal with the discomfort of thinking about death or illness and just love and be with that person. We are all in this together!

I'm sorry you feel such constant pain. I can't imagine. I do know in my shorter moments of dealing with intense pain, it does overtake everything else in your life.

Bless you that you may have continued strength and hope! You are an example. xxx

Wendy said...

What an honest and heart-felt post, Maggie. I am glad you feel comfortable sharing this most important aspect of dealing with cancer.

We haven't learned as a society to be comfortable around someone who is ill, or someone who is newly widowed. People don't know what to say.

But you've said it very well. Just be yourself! We are still "us" underneath the pain and sorrow. And it's very important to act as normal and live as normally as possible. We celebrate Life for however long it lasts.

You go girl!!
Sending hugs.

Anonymous said...

A very thoughtful post. It really would be much healthier all round if we could just talk openly about what was happening.

Glad to hear the pain is going away.

cheshire wife said...

It is very brave of you to have written such an eloquent post on this subject. Professionally I had to sort this issue out some time ago. I noticed that despite their illness most people remain amazingly cheerful. So I always try to be cheerful back to them. But as they say 'there's nowt so queer as folk'.

Hilary said...

Maggie you have such a wonderful attitude.. one we can all learn from. Good advice.. you're such a positive person and I'm happy to "know" you. And I'm so happy that your pain is diminishd.

Also, you asked me about Benny and possible rabbit chasing. If a pet rabbit was introduced to him as such - that is, presented to him as a friend, he would most likely cover it with kisses. A wild rabbit might illicit a chase but really, he's seen so many on our walks, and tends to leave them alone. Squirrels are his real challenge. That having been said, he has indeed caught a couple of those semi-recently. He very gently mouths the tail and then lets them go again. He doesn't really want to catch or harm them.. it's all in the chase.

ChrisB said...

How wise you are Maggie. I feel so privileged to know you (over the ether!) and so admire your strength and fortitude. You are an example to us all. God bless...

CiCi said...

Thinking clearly is impossible when you are living with chronic pain, or even temporary pain when it is high level pain. Living as you have been certainly has helped you put your life priorities in order. Even people living with a close brush with death are entitled to enjoy to the best of their ability the joy of each day, sometimes just each minute. It is sad that some people are uncomfortable being around you. It is as if they prefer to ignore the horribleness and in so doing, it won't affect them or make them nervous. Hugs to you, dear lady, you are one in a million.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

I so admire your attitude sweetie. Just know I'm wrappin' my heart and prayers around you.

I'm one who doesn't avoid but tries to do whatever I can. I wish I could give you a big old hug right now!

God bless and have a beautiful day sweet lady!!! :o)

Gone Back South said...

Hiya Maggie, glad to see that round of treatment is behind you. Lots of love & hugs from over here ...
A x

RNSANE said...

I am so glad you are, once more, feeling better. I just recently went to see a younger friend who, on her first mammogram, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had just recently lost her job before that - and her health insurance - and the condominium she had been buying for the past seven years - yet she still remained upbeat and positive. My girlfriend and I drove over to the East Bay where she lives with a girlfriend and took her out for Thai food and had a lovely visit wiht her. She's a terrific girl and I hope she survives this...I just had to see her before I left for India.

You two ladies have such spirit and are really inspiring to me.

Moannie said...

Dearest Maggie, just the words I needed to put me in my place...what a fuss I have been making over a bit of flu or some sort of un-named lurgey which put the fear into me-great big scaredy cat that I am.
I saw so much during my nursing years..and, as a junior found it very hard to cope, not knowing how...little by little it came to me-one counters humour with humour-terror with understanding and patience-pain with help,one listens, knows when to be silent, when to joke, when to show anger at the foul disease. One follows the patient's lead. Sometimes just being there is enough. I heart you.

TexWisGirl said...

came over from hilary's POTW list today. what a great post, dear maggie may. i do hope you continue to have painless days and more wonderful time with your family. :)

secret agent woman said...

I think people don't know what to say with virtually any difficulty - serious illness, death of a loved one, job loss, what have you. In my book, a simple "I'm sorry" goes a long way.