Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When You Talk About Cancer

There seems to be a pattern. Typically we talk about Meagan's cancer in the morning, over tea. The discussions here tend to be a bit less emotional, leaning more to the process, logistics, practitioners, "what do we do next" kind of talk. I'm usually pretty ready for this, as I've been up for a couple hours already, have read a lot, probably researched quite a bit, so my brain is functioning. This is a good thing, because you can't have a non-functioning brain when topics come up.

At this hour, the cabana boy's job is more co-problem solver. Example: the dose on the prescription bottle is different than what the naturopath said to take, what do we do about it? [Aside - with our new - now former - naturopath, since we can't get a hold of her anyway as they don't return calls, we just make our own judgment call]. Or we will talk about the boys and how we are doing with keeping them informed and thinking through the various treatment scenarios and time frames and how we will have then here when they need to be (or Bethesda if that's where we'll need to be) and how they need to keep on building their own lives with Meagan's disease as backdrop for them (entirely different for us where it's front and center). It can get teary but usually we are in a spirit of optimism and "can do" and being steadfast and resolute about prevailing over this disease.

Then there is nighttime. Nighttime has two times. Right before bed, usually in that calm before we get the dogs in their space and begin the logistics of closing up house for the night. And then there is pillow time. Right before bed, it's usually about reassuring. Some talk about what's on deck for the next day - especially in terms of treatment, appointments and medical related meetings. But mainly it's about reassuring her that we are on the right path, that we are looking at all the right options, that we've educated ourselves to be effective advocates and have the right questions at hand for upcoming discussions. As discussed in previous posts we've really come to realize how important it is that we are not passive, but active participants and questioning participants in the medical process. Addressing things such as medication and supplement compatibility and the consequences of anticipated treatment with future treatments. So it's reassurance, with a problem solving bent, and a sprinkling of  my own concerns or views.

At pillow time, it's 100% emotional and 100% empathy and emotional support. It's when the guard gets let down, the bully comes out of the box, and fear, concern, and future bad scenarios emerge. This is clearly the hardest part. The cabana boys's job here is to hold and comfort, and walk her back from the edge. Talk her into visualizing putting the bully in the box and padlock it and put it back in the corner. Talk about not looking ahead but focusing on what is in the present, what is good, and our next treatment options. It's about being strong for her and acknowledging the challenges and her feelings, but also centering her, and telling her that no matter what I'm with her every step of the way.

After some period of time, calm usually emerges, the fears subside, and peace prevails. Sleep for the cabana boy though is a little harder to come by. Because you get all ready for the pillow challenge, you are kind of amped up, so it takes quite a while before your own thoughts can calm down. While I usually feel relief that Meagan is feeling better and able to nod off - I'm dealing with my own thoughts, feelings and fears.

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