Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Newly Diagnosed? A Deep Breath & Keep Your Eye on the Horizon

Today?  Variations on a theme: a big deep breath and an eye on the horizon.

When you're newly diagnosed, the last thing you can imagine is the other side of treatment -- when you're finished with the chemo, the radiation, the surgery.  Here's another context to think about, and a story I hope you can keep in mind on tough days:

More than ten years ago three dear friends and I held what would become an annual event that's become so important in all of our lives that one of our members actually rescheduled her meeting with the chancellor of a prestigious university to meet with us. Another frets all year long until she finds EXACTLY the right gift for the EXACT amount of money -- $10.00. And it's always something we love.  We even met at the same restaurant and ordered EXACTLY the same meal until the restaurant -- the landmark "Bluebonnet Cafe" in Old Town Spring, closed.  We tried another famous haunt in Spring, Wunche Brothers Cafe, but that didn't work.  No matter, what we eat and where is not the kicker.  What has evolved over time is.

The format of the meal is always the same.  Each person says what has happened over the year and ends with usually three things the group then prays for during the year until the next lunch comes around.  That is the simple premise.  Over the decade we have prayed for:

  • a loving companion for our single friend (granted); a child (not granted, but she found joy and great happiness with her adult stepchildren!); 
  • continued health for a disabled sibling (he continues to hold his own); 
  • ORGANIZED CLOSETS (we are still working on that one, though progress continues!); 
  • continued health for all, but especially so as I recovered from cancer (I am now 11 years cancer free);
  • emotional, spiritual and physical health: renewed commitments to fitness & faith (a beautiful thing to see each of us grapple with and take each on!).
We had our "Christmas Club" lunch this past Friday and talked about the "early days."  The first time we had the lunch I was taking Tamoxifen and unfit for polite society. My first months back at work were tough. My clothes didn't fit correctly and my mind did not work.  My moods traveled the scale. And I could not see the horizon, that the discomfort would pass. I couldn't see the horizon and the impact of love over time.  Look what has happened, with a small group of women who meet for lunch, talk about the "good stuff" and pray for each other throughout the year.  Incredible things have come to pass.  

So if you are newly diagnosed, and trying to walk through and on top of your fear, I hope you can take a deep breath, and for one moment, put your eye on the horizon.  Because you never know who might be praying for you.



joinourloop said...

Great post Jody.
I can not remember a more overwhelming time than the diagnosis. At the time it was like there was a river between me and the non-cancer world and it kept getting wider.

I wish newly diagnosed would get an orientation on how the medical system works and how to communicate with doctors. Instead most people start looking for a breast surgeon and lose track of the big picture.

I am so glad you have that tradition to look forward to!

Jody said...

I am so with you -- I wish we could scoop up the newly diagnosed and hold a seminar....because the point of entry, with a breast surgeon, can really hamper getting the big picture.

Thanks so much for reading & commenting.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post - a testament to friendship, love, support...and HOPE! For those of us who have been through that shock of diagnosis, then the long months of treatment, it is hard sometimes to think we will ever come out the other side, but we do. And when we do, I believe we owe it to those who come behind us, are perhaps just starting out on the journey, to keep that light of hope burning. One day you too will look back at the point far behind you and see how far you have come. So, as Jody says, keep your eye on the horizon and know that you will come through this. I am not saying it will be easy. We too were once where you were and shared the same fears and anxieties, but step by step you WILL get through it. You are far stronger and braver than you ever dreamed possible and there is plenty of support and love out there for you as you start your journey of healing.

Debbie said...

I remember my early days, particularly when I was in chemo. I remember feeling like I would NEVER feel good again. Now here I am 3 years later and I am stronger than ever before in so many ways. When you are newly diagnosed it is so hard to have faith and hope that things are going to be better, but I am here to tell you that they can! Jody, your annual event with your friends and the support you all have given each other helped you through the tough early days and that is so wonderful! I have had the good fortune of family and friends and most recently many new found friends like you, Marie and the other twisters to help me through. I can't wait to be 11 years out like you! And I'll be praying for you too:)
Love , Deb

Jody said...

Marie, Deb,
I so appreciate your thoughts. If just the thought -- you WILL come through this, there's always hope -- resonates with at least one of our newly diagnosed sisters then I (and I know you both as well) would be so glad. Have a gorgeous day!

BreastCancerSisterhood.com said...

Being diagnosed with cancer is the closest thing to getting hit by a bus I can imagine. Somehow you've survived the bus, but the damage may be life-threatening, not to mention terrifying, accompanied by a long recuperation. Months, even years after impact, you can't imagine life without that blasted bus, and you continue to wonder if it's going to hit you again. Brenda@BreastCancerSistserhood.com

Annemieke said...

Dear Jody,
What a beautiful blog, a true hymne to friendship, strong characters and women living strong. I hope your group will be having this gatherings for many years to come! You are an inspiration to all the newly diagnosed. Love,Annemieke

Barbara and Connie said...

A wonderful recap of our very loving annual holiday lunch!! Friendships are so important and your blog is helping so many new friends. Love, Barbara

Deana Goldasich said...

Such a wonderful post, Jody! I forwarded this link to a newly-diagnosed friend. Thank you so much for all that you do!