Friday, October 12, 2007

In Need of Support...?

Even with all the people supporting me and sending me good vibes, cancer can be lonely sometimes. But in order to get out of the lowest low, cancer also needs to be liberating.

I'm trying to understand the whole concept of "support person." You don't have a support person in your life, until you get cancer. But shouldn't a partner, parent, friend, etc. always be a support person, no matter if you're sick or not? What needs to change about a person to elevate them to the status of support person, or to place that extra weight on them?

My husband has been defined as my support person, as one would naturally think he should be. My parents and in-laws also provide a huge amount of support by taking care of the kids. But really, I'm not sure how this scenario is different than it was six months ago, before I was diagnosed with cancer.

I think I've gotten used to the idea of Dude being the support person in the definition of him being here more, that he's with me and the kids more, spending time with us. But he's a busy person: breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings, press conferences, 8 PM coffee meetings, academic conferences, radio interviews, newspaper interviews, office hours. And when he's home, there are urgent emails and phone calls that he must attend to. This week he's in Philly for a conference. In December, he's in DC. I have to admit--it doesn't sit well with me. My immediate reaction is anger, bitterness, and feelings of abandonment. He gets to live his life, as usual. I have to stay home with my cancer.

I have to have my moment: I cry, think of all the ways he's betraying me by living his life, going about his business, paying more attention to the community and the university than to me. I think of the counselling sessions at the cancer agency, and for someone as brilliant as my husband is--why doesn't he get it?

But what's there to get? In the bathtub, I have my pity party. When I'm done, I see all the strands of snot flotting among flakes of skin and eye lashes. I allowed myself to shed the negative energy.

The day DH left for Philly, I had a really great day. I made myself get out of the house, exercise and do a lot of walking, write some poetry, and enjoy the sunshine. Yesterday was pretty good too. The weather has taken pity on me. It's not so bad to stay behind. It's actually pretty good.

But I still don't know what I'm supposed to think about this "support person" title. I'm not sure I like it. Dude is my husband, and when he really needs to be there, like when I'm getting chemo, he is. When he's not there in an everyday scenario, I do feel a little bad, like at night, when I'm sitting in bed and it's half empty. Or when I'm eating by myself at dinner. Or when I'm putting the kids to bed by myself, first Mylo, then Chloe, who asks where Daddy is. In addition to the word "meeting," they know the word for "conference" now.

I'm back to why this is different from life before cancer. It's not. Should it be any different? What needs to change? That's what I'm struggling with.

DH and I are similar--that's why we're together, is it not? We both find it hard to say "no" because we believe in the greater good. So when I'm not feeling so pathetically lonely and abandoned, I'm really proud of all that he does, that he's so committed and passionate. But yeah, sometimes, cancer is a party of one--and the challenge then is to see the greater good, in anything. The upside is the feeling that comes from re-learning how to be independent in the hardest of times.

Hm, how do I end on an uplifting note? I'm taking applications for substitute support people to come read bedtime stories to my kids, sit in bed and rub my back until I fall asleep, and cook me dinner in your underwear. Any takers?


nat said...

My doctor said to keep working during chemo. It has sure helped me. It helps to keep your mind off of 'cancer', and also helps fend off depression.
If it is an option for you, I'd recommend it.

Animae said...

I wish I was there with you. I miss you.

drunken monkey said...

i will be there anytime to read stories to your kids, put them to bed, feed you stinky cheese and caesers and other tastebud-awakening foods, and rub your back.

unfortunately, i don't think it would be appropriate for me to cook you dinner in my underwear. ;-)

Leah said...

I'm not so good with kids--I would choose wildly inappropriate bedtime stories--but if I am ever in the area or you in NYC, I'll cook for you in my underwear.

XO from the Bx