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Something to help family & friends Something to help family & friends

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Unread 03-17-2004, 07:17 PM
Something to help family & friends

I know this may sound odd, *we're* the ones that need comforting! But this helped me as well.

When I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, I notified just about everyone but my parents and grandparents by email. (Friends, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.) Partly because while I wanted to let everyone know what was going on, I just couldn't bear the thought of calling everyone and repeating the story over and over again. I got immediate responses from just about everyone, very encouraging words of support. That helped me a lot.

Once I started chemo and radiation, I started sending everyone weekly updates. At first I hesitated to give all the gory details (you know, all the side effects of pelvic radiation), but gradually came to find out that everyone *wanted* that information. They *wanted* to know what the difference is between radiation and chemo. They *wanted* to know how it works, what happens to you when you go through it, how you feel, etc. They even wanted details of my internal radiation procedures!

So a weekly email system emerged. I'd send a long report, and I'd get back floods of emails of encouragement. (I love getting email that's not work-related, so that was fun!) I've regained contacts with close friends that I've been too busy to communicate with on a regular basis. It's been great. At one point I mentioned to someone that I felt a little uneasy giving everyone what I thought might be "too much information." But she assured me that in her case, it was nice to hear because, one, she was curious about such things, and two, she felt uncomfortable calling all the time, not knowing whether I was resting or just not up to phone calls. I can understand that, and it made me realize why everyone was so into the emails.

When chemo/radiation ended, I sent out a message that I was going to be following up with my doctor to schedule my hyst. Well, because I bounced back to feeling normal so quickly, and nothing was really going on with me at the time (just waiting for surgery), I slipped and didn't send any weekly reports for a while. I started hearing from everyone -- "How are you? We're worried! We haven't heard from you!" So now I'm sending biweekly reports, and have promised to send updates as I can after surgery.

One more thing -- my boss's husband donated a kidney the day I was diagnosed, and there were some serious complications. He's still in ICU. She's also begun sending updates, and being on the other end of them, I'm glad she's doing it. I also wanted to know what was going on, but didn't want to bother her, knowing she was pretty busy spending her days at the hospital and talking to doctors.

So, if you have any inclination to do this, I've found it very helpful and sort of therapeutic for everyone involved :-)
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