Monday, March 24, 2008

Well, R has left - though she offered to stay at least until my appointment with the gynecologist on Thursday. I said that she didn't need to. I'll be okay. I did get cold and scared just before she left...what a blessing it was to have her here when I got this unexpected news. It means that, until now, I haven't been alone since I went to the doctor on Thursday afternoon.

We had a very nice two days away. R kept bursting into tears, but I was okay. I mean, my thoughts were on it, but I was able to enjoy myself in a way that surprised me, a little. The only times I've gotten really freaked out were the two times I looked up some information about ovarian cancer on the Internet - learning about death rates, and the extent of the hysterectomies that are usually required, and the fact that if there are any symptoms at all - and I had symptoms - it is not an early case. Then I have felt panicky.

But I know that it might not be cancer. I know this. And mostly I have been able to think about it in those terms - as a perhaps. Even when my mind wanders - as it inevitably does - to the question of what if it is cancer, I am mostly filled with irritation and premature exhaustion, and not mortal fear.

One thing that has bothered me is that I am here, in Scary City. I have only, of course, lived here for 8 months. The doctor asked me if I had good supports - knowing that the week of waiting for any more information would be hard - and I said, automatically, yes. But I was thinking of my "old" life. Here, while I have been very fortunate to have befriended a lot of people in a relatively short space of time, it is another thing to burden new friends with being a support system. But I know I need to do this - I need someone to come to appointments with me, for instance. I need another pair of ears, especially if - as I did on Thursday - I get panicky and can't focus and ask questions properly. I am loath to bring a new friend into this, but I will have to do so. Poor them!!

I have talked to just a very few other people - people from home (in the expanded sense). While I have let them all know that this is preliminary, each one of the few that I've spoken to has offered to come out and help me, if the diagnosis does turn out to be the dire one. Such friends I have - wow, I'm lucky.

That's all for now - thank you for your lovely messages. You are a virtual support system!


Sfrajett said...

Hilaire, we are sending many many thoughts and prayers and good wishes to you. Love yourself enough to ask your friends to support you. You give the people and bloggers around you love and support all the time, and you deserve it for yourself, too.

Pantagruelle said...

Hugs!!! Glad to hear you can count on R and friends back home and it's true you need to ask new SC friends to be there for you too. We here in blog world are with you in spirit. Hang in there!

Maude Lebowski said...

ditto, ditto, ditto.

look, when a friend of mine found out he had testicular cancer, people were coming out of the woodwork to help him--even people he hardly knew were offering to drive him to and from chemo appointments because his girlfriend lived way far away--japan. (she was able to make it back for surgeries, but there were some restrictions on her travel because of her fellowship and since they're not married, anyway...). the point is, people you probably wouldn't even suspect would support you probably will. though most of us in the blogosphere are far away, whatever we can do for you, we will.

((((((hilaire (& R))))))))

dbm/gaa said...

My neighbour has cancer and we are all pulling together to help him and his wife out. People do help, even people you don't know very well, they want to help. I want to help, even at a distance!

It may not be cancer, even if it is there is treatment. No one has written a death warrant for you (think Monty Python!). You are calm (although perhaps in the denial stage, hmmm?!), you still have your sense of humour (absolutely vital) and in general you are in good health. Ask people for help (which is hard to do, believe me I know!) and accept it when it is offered. Even at a distance from Home City you have support both practical and emotional.

Thinking of you constantly (if that helps!).

heu mihi said...

What Maude said--by and large, people like to help. You will not be burdening them by bringing them into this, I promise. Take care of yourself, dear! Sending lots and lots of love your way.

medieval woman said...

Yes! Yes! We are a support structure too! I'm glad you could enjoy a little bit of time away and hopefully you'll get more information on Thursday at the next appointment. I'll be thinking of you and please know that I'll fly out there too if you need me! ;) Depending on what needs to be done, have you considered taking a leave of absence and heading back to Home City? Methinks that would be a good move...

Keep us informed and take best of care!

Hugs to you and R

Susan said...

Just to say -- you MUST have someone else with you on Thursday to take it in. If you know someone locally who is medically savvy it's even better.

And yes, people will offer to help -- it gives them the feeling that they are doing something useful in a situation that has lots of pain. I would advise you to identify a friend now and ask them to take on the role of coordinating help. The real problem is that people say, "Oh, what can I do to help", and you have to assign them. You want to say, Oh, great, I'll tell Jane and she'll put you on the list". The list includes driving to appointments/treatments, cooking, etc. And if someone is offering something special or specific, that's fine (actually, it's better.)

khora said...

Susan's offered brilliant advice regarding a help coordinator. One of the worst things about being in distress is being asked, "How can I help?" The question, of course, is good-intentioned; however, it burdens the distressed in more ways than one--especially if the distressed is loath to ask for help in the first place.

But ask for help, you must. If you can't find someone to go with you on Thursday, consider bringing a recording device.

Feel the love, dear H.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Yes, people are very willing to help (people my mom hardly knows have been helping her out tons in the last few weeks when she's been immobilized from an accident) - and Susan's advice is spot on.

My undergrad advisor had ovarian cancer in the early '90s and she's still around and doing great. (Don't know if such stories help or not, but thought I'd throw it out there. Even though it may well not be cancer!)

Hilaire said...

Susan - That's a great idea! I will think about that if it ends up being bad enough that I need that kind of support system.

R has spoken to her boss about this...she can work remotely for a month or whatever, if need be - she could come out here. My mother has also offered to come out at the drop of a hat - though I am hoping to put that off. My friend M, too. And my friend S. And then there are the people here - I will start telling them today, and see if I can locate someone to come with me on Thursday.

Thanks, all!

Maggie said...

I'm just catching up on reading, H, and ... wow. I'm thinking of you and sending love and strength your way.

Psychgrad said...

I agree, Susan's idea is a good one. I'm still hoping that none of that will be necessary and that things go well on Thursday.

But, definitely accept help when it's offered and don't be shy to ask for it. What is the expression? - give people a chance to rise to the occasion.

I'm glad you were able, for the most part, to enjoy your get away.

muse said...

My dear friend at my institution spent his entire first year on the job fighting lymphoma, only to find that it had come back in his lung over the summer. I was so glad that he reached out to me to tell me what he was going through. He's doing so much better now, and we are closer than ever.

What I learned from this is that close friendships can be formed over a relatively short amount of time, and also that people often really do get better, and fast.

Hilaire said...

Muse - That's a really important story for me to hear. So are all of your reminders that people like to help. It's true - for instance, I like to help! Well, today I have told a couple of my people here in Scary City, and tomorrow I am meeting with the friend I have Chosen, i.e. Chosen to ask to come with me to appointments. Lucky gal.

I also have to go in to the hospital tomorrow (Wednesday) for some blood tests - this is a good thing. The results will be there for my appointment on Thursday morning.

dbm/gaa said...

You are taking all the right steps, good for you! It would be so easy to wallow at this point.

Another survivor story for you: my grandmother beat ovarian cancer in her 80s. She had surgery and chemo (for which she got great anti-side-effects drugs) and came through well enough to take up her normal life, including golf three times a week.

Belle said...


Gather strength from those who care - and there are bunches out here. Just keep reading the comments - it really does help!

Bardiac said...

I'd like to toss in another agreement for Susan's idea. When a colleague here got sick, people wanted to help, but we needed help coordinating things. Some people arranged to cook meals (because who wants to eat hospital food, and he was in for chemo for months), others drove or did errands, or mowed or whatever. I was amazed to see how great my colleagues were, and grateful. I hope, should you need it, that you find the same. (But more, I hope you don't need it.)