This entry was written by Glynis Rhodes, writer of What Every Friend Should Know, a brochure that highlights effective diaglogue when discussing cancer:
Within 14 days of my diagnosis, three family members were diagnosed as well. My 2007 annual, or should I say “routine” mammogram, prompted a second screening which lead to a biopsy. Later I learned that my aunt needed a biopsy as well.
So began the chain of communication. During those 14 days, my aunt called her sister who then called our California cousin. They too, had been diagnosed along with our cousin from North Carolina.
So the network of caring began. Caring comes in many forms: the brief calls, visits from loved ones who travel distances, rides to and from appointments and precious babies crawling all over you as you lay on the sofa too tired to move. The list goes on and on.
While the four of us were on the Communication Chain, the rest of the family broke into caring units. While caring for us in immediate family circles, the smaller immediate circles began to grow into larger family circles that grew closer all because of our diagnosis. As my family grew closer, together, you would find them comparing information from our medical teams, reviewing the latest news on breast cancer research and making blankets to keep us warm. More importantly, they made sure the four of us stayed in touch. If we weren’t feeling up to par, they’d step in and make the phone calls we couldn’t make and pass along messages that each of us needed to hear.
The chain of communication continues. With similar treatment plans, my aunt and I talked about surgery, treatment, side effects and our medical teams. Being treated first allowed me to soften the blow of visits, procedures and side effects. I was able to give her a breakdown of what to expect and what to do to help her relax. She then passed the information along to the others. Just as the disease varies, our experiences and treatment plans did as well.
Our family has always been what I call “creepy close.” We are so close that sometimes we kindly overstep our boundaries! But, we wouldn’t be whole without that closeness. Cancer has been with us for more than 28 years. It took a break for a good while then reared its ugly head in 2007.
If you come from a long family line of women affected by breast cancer, here are my suggestions:
- Eat more plant-friendly foods
- Walk those extra steps to keep off the pounds
- ALWAYS nurture family relationships and look out for each other
- Get mammograms together followed by lunch, shopping and a movie!
- For the family members who have already been diagnosed and are actively in treatment, do what you can to let them know you care
- Being loved and tenderly cared for is a tremendous part of the healing process.
Being close before the storm makes the rough winds more tolerable. It saddens me when people go through treatment alone. I was the youngest of the 4 diagnosed and had the hardest time with my treatment, needing to be hospitalized twice. Each time, my family (blood & spiritual) quickly got the network going and provided around-the-clock care and visits. I was never alone and that meant the world to me! Once I was fortunate to have a private room which allowed limitless visits. The second time I shared a room and had 18 visitors in one day! It wore me out but I was happy just the same. Even my aunt was there, showing me chemo hair.
I remain positive because I am too scared to be afraid. I am learning to love my new self and I do the best I can with what Jehovah God has given me, life in abundance. I am thankful for each day and I surround myself with positive people who love me — who I love. I won’t let cancer keep me down. There are too many good things about life after breast cancer. Trust me, I know.
Watch Glynis explain how breast cancer came into the lives of her and her three close family members. She also explains why writing What Every Friend Should Know was so important.
How did your family come through for you during your breast cancer treatment? We want to hear your story! Comment here or on our facebook page.