Support (pt 2)

I didn’t know I’d been waiting for it but I really have been. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ran a long, detailed story on immunotherapy for melanoma and lung cancer. Included are video interviews with long-term survivors of melanoma and lung cancer who were treated with immunotherapy drugs (like the one I had, and others being considered if I do need further treatment).

I have admittedly been very remiss in seeking support for myself and my family in the past few months. I scared myself off from visiting Gilda’s Club by imagining that my showing up there, feeling well (as I was before things got really bad) would be akin to showing up at a Weight Watchers meeting when I want to lose 15 pounds and everyone else in the room wants to lose 100. And then, suddenly, I was too sick to go anywhere. I rationalized that taking my kids there would expose them to the true, evil nature of cancer, by introducing them to kids whose parents are worse off than me (or even dead). My kids are still so young – I haven’t even found a way yet to speak to them about Eric Garner, or Ferguson, not to mention global anti-Semitism or the climate. So laying a heavy trip on them, one that is very directly connected to me, a constant and (as the past few weeks have proven to me) stabilizing force in their lives, doesn’t seem fair or right for us right now.

As for myself, yes, I enjoyed and benefited from the sessions I had with the social worker at the cancer center. I noticed when I was there this week that she runs a support group for those living with melanoma – but as is typical of me, I neglected to note when it meets. I continue to reject the identity overlay of melanoma patient as permanent. (The overlay is not even Mylar, it’s filmy as onion skin. Or made of that packing material that dissolves when you put it in water.)

So a friend sending me a link to that Journal story was the best thing to happen (other than the delicious baked ziti she also brought us this week). I got to hear from My People, but I didn’t have to engage in dialogue with them. Given my newly-discovered propensity to be a bit of an ass when it comes to cancer conversations, and my “empathy fails,” I think this story is the best kind of support I could receive right now. People all over the country are dealing with the same type of thing, and they’re surviving and even thriving. What a gift. Thank you, science.

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