Saturday, November 9, 2013

Six Digits Later

Hi Everyone,

A major milestone was reached this week - my blog hit the 100,000 mark in terms of visits. Now I know I am no Kardashian or Adrianna Huffington but I think reaching six digits is definitely an achievement and I would have never made it here without all of you. It all started in a flat in downtown Oslo when I was a week or two post mastectomy and pondering how the hell I would get through the Big C. And now I have been through a whole other round but am most importantly still here. This blog has been so deeply cathartic for me and allowed me to say what I feel and face some of the more difficult experiences and emotions. It has also made it possible to keep you all informed of how I actually am doing without sending a hundred emails which is key when you are operating at a severely reduced capacity. This blog started with a small army and has grown into a full force to be reckoned with and for that I am forever grateful. You have been there for me through it all - pulled me up when I was down and celebrated the wins that were so special. In celebration of this, I will remain silent for once and let some special people who have been here from the beginning tell their side of my Big C. It will be written in two parts as it appears that "my people" have alot to say and I don´t want to edit out anything because it is all so important. I hope you enjoy it!

Part 1: The OBB Family

The words of my dear husband (AKA My Cancierge)

Six things I learnt from C.A.N.C.E.R:

Courage - you find a whole lot of this in the person you are supporting with cancer and most likely you will realise you yourself have much more of this than you ever thought. The most courageous person I know is OBB.

Anger - cancer makes you angry and that's fine. If seeing this happening to a person you love, isn't a valid reason to be angry, nothing is. Just remember to not always be angry. The person who needs you wants to see your smile when they are feeling down.

Normal - to a certain extent cancer is a part of life. I learnt that breast cancer is much more common than I thought, with about 1 in 10-12 women being affected. To our advantage and because of how "normal" breast cancer is, science has made leaps and bounds over the past 20 years increasing survival rates by 50%. Go Science!

Control - as a cancierge (someone supporting someone through cancer) many things are out of your control. This is extremely frustrating. My advice is control what you can control. Be practical and make sure you keep your home nice and you children fed. Make sure feet are rubbed, tears are dried and hugs and kisses are given. You are now the rock and the person who will keep the cogs of a family turning whilst you get through this. Embrace the role, but don't be scared of asking for help from family and friends.

Expectations - when this happens to your loved ones it is very hard to know what expectations the person with cancer has to you. Presume they have none. They know you can't cure their cancer. But don't let that be a reason not to show them you care. If you think about something you would like to do for them, but you hesitate to do it because you expect they do not want to be disturbed, throw that expectation out the window and reach out. It will be appreciated.

Real - cancer is very much real and no longer anything I thought only happened to someone else. Although part of our "innocence" is lost through this I have also discovered what real love is. I love you, OBB.

The words of my lovely mother, a breast cancer survivor herself. 

Cancer. Scary word. It happened to US.

It first happened to you and then it found me. You and I have collided unexpectedly across the generations on this cancer journey. For me at my age, it was within the norm; for you at your age, it is not in the norm. We shared this new bond reluctantly. I was the passenger who asked for “Permission to board the vessel” ( Blog # …). You forged the way with surgery and chemo. When it was my turn, you advised and supported me. Our closeness grew.

I was devastated when you were given your diagnosis and found myself in the frightening position that I could not fix it or make it go away. That’s not what mothers do. I witness your suffering and it twists my heart. So what could I do? I can walk by you, share your load, listen to your cries, fears, and hopes and surround you with my love.

Through our almost daily texts or chats, I learned that listening helps, providing perspective can help but not giving advice. … That pervasive fears, feeling sick, sadness and frustration are very much part of this journey and need acceptance. I can only imagine but never fully understand another’s  experience through a life threatening illness. It keeps me humble and attentive….Also that recovery is much slower and more subtle than one would assume…. that symptoms can linger for many years but often are invisible. Cancer changes the person. The expectation of wellness can be  a burden to the sick person, so be cautious with asking” How are you?” .  Within myself, as a mother, my life has become a silent prayer for your well being and healing. I ask for the graces that you need, each time something difficult arises.

With amazing skill and originality, you chronicled this unwanted and troubling experience from the start. You brought shape and reality to it, with your honesty, and sense of humor. Your words have tamed this frightening and life altering experience. Your blogs, show your amazing capacity to transform your fears, name your feelings and experiences and chronicle your progress. Through your courage and clarity, you have become a beacon for others. You inform, and evoke compassion and love. And you have gathered through your blogs an invisible but mighty support.

I believe, some of my prayers are being answered. You, my wonderful daughter have emerged through these challenges as an extraordinary, loving, courageous, and very articulate young woman. I am proud of you. You keep going day by day, looking ahead, even when the going gets very rough. You love your little daughter, my precious little granddaughter, and remain connected in love with your white knight in shining armor. He also deserves serious accolades.

Kate, you have also inspired and engaged many of my friends, to pray and care for you, They also support me because they understand how difficult it is to witness your child’s suffering. You have created a circle of support, across generations, - now with over 100,000 readings of your blog. We all want to see you get well and are wishing a mighty wish. We know there are no guarantees and accepting the unknown is a daily chore. What we know that you are loved, respected and even admired. You shine with a bright light! I love you abundantly. Mom  

Thank you to my dear husband and mother for being a part of this celebration and being there for every step of the way. I love you both.

Last Words...

While putting my daughter to bed last week, I asked her a question I hadn't asked her before - "How did you feel when mommy got sick?"

She looked at me pondering the question and then said (in Norwegian) "Mommy - I was sooooooooooooo scared."

Me too too. 

Look forward to Part 2. 



1 comment:

  1. Just read Part 1 after I had already read Part II. WOW, this was so very special to have your husband and also your mother tell us how it really feels to be impacted by cancer (and in the case of your Mom, to also have to go through it herself). And your little daughter is wise beyond her years. {{{hugs}}} to you dear OBB. I am sharing this post on Twitter for you. (Gotta get on there, girlfriend!) ;-)