To say I’ve got one hell of a support system would be a massive understatement. I’m am forever grateful to be surrounded by such wonderful people and I don’t know how I would even begin to handle any of this alone.
I’ve talked about this before, but being a young adult with cancer can be super isolating. I sometimes find it hard to make small talk with people my age (how weird does that sound?!) because it seems like such a giant elephant in the room. Most other topics and conversations just seem so trivial and, at times, it can be difficult to participate. Ah yes, the weather is beautiful this week but also I’m still alive so that’s cool too.
THANK GOD for my people. Somehow, someway, they make me feel less alone with this whole cancer thing.
First up: my family. Both Mom and Dad attend every doctors appointment with me which is SO great. Dad drives me to and from every Mayo visit - even if it’s just for some bloodwork. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to get the news that your kid has metastatic cancer, but my parents are total champs and the best advocates. I can’t stress how important it is to find yourself an advocate while going through something like this. It’s impossible to comprehend everything the doctors are saying while balancing the emotional (and sometimes physical) side effects of cancer. Lauren supplies me with inappropriate coloring pages that I can dedicate to my disease. Makes time spent in waiting rooms and my infusions a little more fun! Both of my parents, along with my sister text me almost every day to ask how I’m doing. Weirdly enough, I’m not annoyed at all by it yet. Love my FAM BAM.
Next up: my boyfriend. At risk of this sounding incredibly cheesy and somewhat barfy, he’s just the best. We had such an unconventional start to our relationship — he met my parents for the first time while I was in the hospital! And I was busy in an MRI tube that I didn’t even get to introduce them. Not only does he go find me a hair tie while I’m puking my guts out, but he is also the perfect balance between being supporting and pushing me to live a somewhat normal life. He lets me talk about things as much as I want, but doesn’t let me dwell. He’s never phased if plans change cause I don’t feel well (which seems to happen more often than not). And he brought his own pillow to the hospital and slept there so I didn’t have to be by myself. The world needs more Dans. Period.
My friends and coworkers: because of all of you, I have quite the collection of hilarious socks and fuzzy blankets to choose from for scan and infusion days. I appreciate you all more than you know and every text message makes me smile.
I recognize that not everyone has such a stable, amazing support group, but there are options out there if you look for them. When I was first diagnosed I felt like I had to be one of the only people with this and that couldn’t be more untrue. There are so many of us out there (as sad as it is). I’ve “met” a handful of people through social media that have eerily similar stories (looking at you, Grace!) Although I haven’t met these people in person, it’s oddly comforting finding them and knowing I’m not alone. We all have this same shitty thing in common and can sort of cheer each other on through this process.
The internet is a fabulous tool (and I’m not just saying that cause I do internet marketing for a living 😉). In random Google searches, I’ve found a handful of support options. The Melanoma Research Foundation has a patient forum where you can talk to other people about their stories, treatments and symptoms. Stupid Cancer (a non profit for young adults with cancer) also has all sorts of resources. They’ve recently launched digital meet-ups — and I’ve signed up to attend one next week.
When I was first diagnosed, I remember saying that I had what feels like an army around me to help destroy this disease. Seven months later, and I still feel that way. I’ll be forever grateful for my army. 🖤💪🏼