A chain of communication is the first step in the healing path

This entry was written by Glynis Rhodes, writer of What Every Friend Should Know, a brochure that highlights effective diaglogue when discussing cancer:

butterfly ball, what every friend should know, living beyond breast cancer

Glynis Rhodes (right) joins her best friend, Yarissa (left), at Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s 2010 Butterfly Ball. Yarissa was the first person who Glynis confided in about her breast cancer diagnosis.

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.

10 thoughts on “A chain of communication is the first step in the healing path

  1. Glynis
    Your blog was wonderful; you are so right. I’m sure so many others will benefit from your wisdom and spirituality. We all know how fragile life really is and to have the love and support from family, friends and community really does make a difference in our recovery. God bless, stay well my beautiful sister!
    xoxoxo Lisa Marsella

    • Thanks Lisa. Life is very fragile and I believe we don’t realize our own mortality until something like cancer invades our lives, our privacy. I never thought I was invincible but Inever thought about dying either. I am thankful for what joys I do have and hope my experience will show others that you do come out of treatment and move on…. I didn’t think I would but here I am!

      Take care- your sister,
      Glynis

  2. Glynis,

    I just want to say that you are such a encouragement to me. I have not experience breast cancer but one of my cousins who is close to me does. I really don’t know how to be there for her, but just to be there. Sometimes we just sit and cry, or laugh, or pray. Thank you for all that you do, your kind words, and your courage to help educate women on health.

    • Hey Karol: I always tell people that I as strong as the wings of those who carry me are. I know that you are doing more for your cousin that you think. If you are just there being what type of friend she needs on any given day it is a blessing well appreciated. I will make sure you get a copy of my brochure… Right now the simple things mean the most to her so keep it simple, keep it real and it will work out for the best!

      Take care,
      Glynis

  3. Dear Glynis, You really need to consider writing another book. Your piece was so touching and beautiful, it was also made my feel very emotional. I truly appreciate and greatly admirer the strength and grace you have shownover the last few years. You are a true role model to your family and friends Love, your aunt, Arrie

    • Hi Arrie – You have my eyes misty. What every grace and goodness I have was passed down from those who raised me and shared their hopes and dreams with me. Controlling my cancer isn’t always easy but with the help and love from family I make it. Each day is truly a gift, escpecially the day I forget about the cancer. You have been a great role model for me and at times I feel like my life really mirrors yours…and thats a good thing.

      Love you,
      Glynis

      To all of you reading this blog, this is my Aunt Arrie…. She has helped and keeps helping to carry those of us diagnosed in April of 2007…. She is part of the Network of Caring….. I love her very much…. I hope you all have an aunt like mine🙂

  4. Glynis
    You have always been there for me and I am so thankful and proud of your strength and ability to pick yourself up and continue to move on, never letting the disese get you down… I know it was hard, honestly it was hard to watch you and my mom go through that… Your message was very touching but they always are… I love you for being there for me when I was young and my kids when I got older and now just because, not only are you a great cousin but you are a great person in general… You have always been my role model I couldnt have chosen a better person to want to be like… I love you and keep relying on Jehovah he will work it out for all of you… Love your Cousin Tyra

  5. Hi Tyra:

    This blog is a true testiment of our family, the Chain of Communication and the Network of Caring. What kind words you have spoken. We’ve always been close enough to share the good and the sad! Being in your life is a pleasure and I am thankful to have you in my corner… kicking the snot out of cancer! Besdies, there is always a rocking family gathering in your house. 🙂

    Thanks for loving me as much as I love you and yours!
    Always,
    Glynis

  6. Glynis:
    You are a beautiful person inside and out. What a blessing to have such a loving and caring family. Your words are full of encouragement to all that read your blog. You are doing what the word saids – we are to comfort others as we have been comforted. I am blessed to have shared special moments with you.

    • Hi JoAnn:

      Talk about the birth of something good from something not so good. I would have never met you, I would have never wrote the brochure, I would not have been able to reach out with the most understanding heart because I have lived it. My family really stepped up the plate and as you can see from the previous respsonses to this blog from my Aunt Arrie, my cousin Trya and my friend Karol… not only did I have Jehovah God and an excellent medical team, I have a wonderful family/friend base that took good care of me. With such love and care I am able to take each day as it come, look for the good and take advantage of the opportunities to enjoy live beyond breast cancer… You are apart of my joy!

      Glynis

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