Every round of Chemo I start to fade early and need to take what I call a Cancer Nap. Luckily I have an understanding boss and two comfy couches to choose from.
Yesterday a call interrupted my nap, and on the other side was my Oncologist. She checked in on how my most recent round went and mentioned a few appointments that needed to be set up. Then she broke from the usual conversation and said she had a favor to ask, something out of the norm. I was intrigued.
Elizabeth let me know that she has another patient with my type of cancer who is not handling the diagnosis well. Like me, he is a younger man of 28 and he is having trouble digesting the news. She went on to say that she felt like I am handling things well and asked if I would be willing to meet and chat with him. Which I must admit was a humbling and energizing request.
And my reply was, "Of course!" I mean how could I not try to help out a brother-in-arms, and while he may or may not want to meet with me the fact that she asked means I am doing something right. But is it just me doing this Cancer thing right on my own? Not in the least. My "success," if you want to call it that, is not just because of things I have done alone, it's because I have:
An amazing wife who let's me take evening naps and puts both of the kids to bed. A woman who listens and processes issues with me, and has the guts to call me out on my bullshit. A woman brave enough to process my diagnosis with others. A woman that loves me deeply.
Family that will make the 6 hour drive to help out when we need it. Parents that will chat or even just listen to me yap at any point in time. Family, who no longer needs "In-Law" status, that will watch the kids while we travel or will provide last minute babysitting so Kim and I can get out together.
Friends who cook, clean, cut down trees, and send you off on ridiculous vacations. Friends that listen to me vent, provide great advice, and pour great wine. Friends that relentlessly care for me and my family, and many of which would drop what they are doing if they were needed.
People literally across the globe that are praying for me, sending good vibes my way, or even writing funny posts on Facebook that made me laugh when steroids were keeping me up at night.
A great medical team at the UofM Masonic Cancer Clinic who call just apologize that they didn't call back the day I left a message. That have mastered the art of drawing labs and being gentle with a needle. An amazing Oncologist who is wickedly smart and very even keeled, and while she is glad to care for me I know that she would rather have never had to meet me.
A great counselor that just listens and really only gives advice when I ask for it. A counselor that is not needy and is willing to adjust our schedule and meet once a month just so I can check in.
And yeah, I could point to my faith as something that is helping, but I don't know this guy's religious background, and I am in no way going to come at him with a bible and a sword and "slay him with the gospel."
No, instead I am going to do what all the people around me have been doing, I am going to do as the great interior designer Ilse Crawford suggests, "You have two eyes, and two ears, and one mouth, and you should use them in that proportion." I am just going to sit there, shut up, and listen. And I will only give advice when it is asked for. Because sometimes all someone needs is a person that will listen as much as they need them to.
An Assignment - Take someone out for coffee and just ask questions, and if they ask you a question politely answer the question but then turn it back on them. Make the time all about them, and just listen. Just ask a question, shut up, and listen.