It keeps amazing me at the connections that I keep making with others through this journey. It sometimes feels like a dance where you grab someone with your right hand, then pass them and grab another person with your left hand and just keep repeating the "connection walk".
Last week at the chemo center, I met again the daughter-in-law with her mother-in-law who I had sat next to a few weeks ago. The mother-in-law was just beginning her treatments and it had been the first time for her port to be accessed. I was able to talk to her and let her know it would be OK. It was good to see them again and we talked for a little while in the waiting room before treatments. I didn't see them afterward, so they must have found a chair in one of the smaller chemo ballrooms, but this type of bond is quickly formed at the center.
I did make it to chemo last week, in spite of the weather. It was good, because it was not as crowded, and thus, we were out early this time. But, speaking of connections, I did have a problem with my port! I really haven't given my port too much thought as I never thought I'd have a problem with it. The chemo nurse was able to access the port, it's just that she couldn't draw blood from it....and that is a most necessary first step for my counts and permission to proceed with the chemo cocktail. She gave it a "flush" several times, and asked me to take deep breaths (and I did...almost hyperventilating with wanting it to work)...but still no blood. She finally had to take it from my hand, but my veins right now are not good, so it just dripped, dripped, dripped into the tube. But thankfully, she was patient and it was enough. She told me to make sure I drink plenty of fluid a couple days before I come next week. And I certainly will because that kinda freaked me out!
A couple days after chemo, I needed to make a connection with someone at our local public school regarding the placement of some children in need at our preschool. While trying to schedule times to meet each other, I happened to mention what was going on in my life so she would understand why I was not available on certain days. Right away, she asked if I would talk to a friend of hers. It seems her friend had a very similar story to mine; only she was just beginning her journey. I know how much it means to talk to someone who "has been there", so I gave her my cell phone number and I talked to her friend that very afternoon. It was a good conversation, a meaningful connection, and someone I will definitely be reaching out to again. These are the connections that mean the most...where I can help others as I have been helped by others.
I no longer think twice about mentioning my journey to others. First of all, I am not ashamed of breast cancer and its treatment. I am glad that it can be diagnosed so early and survivors are all around us. Second, there is always that "8 degrees of separation" between me and another future breast cancer survivor and I know God is reaching out to that person through me. Third, I take back my own power the more I can voice the words and tell the story.
Tonight, as I hear my sister-in-law talk about her daughter, who has been diagnosed with colon cancer...I can also connect with the concerns and love she has for her daughter...and the fear of the unknown of the pathology reports to come and the decisions about treatment. There is just a much different reality in my life now and I am more open to really hearing other stories and sharing my feelings and my heart. These connections with family are becoming very important to me and I am going to keep them important in my life and not let life overtake these relationships.
Now, before I disconnect from this blog, here are a few quotes to keep you thinking about connections:
"Life just seems so full of connections. Most of the time we don't even pay attention to the depth of life. We only see flat surfaces."
- Colin Neenan
"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
— Herman Melville
— Herman Melville
"When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another-and ourselves. -- Jack Kornfield
"It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly."
— Martin Luther King Jr.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Look for your own connections this coming week!