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Friday, May 23, 2008

Support Group: Talking About Cancer....

I didn't want to meet every other week. "We will have cancer for years;" I pointed out, "it is better to meet once a month, over a longer period of time." Then I went to the first meeting... and couldn't wait for the next one.

Our second meeting focused on communication.

Our exercise: Creating Metaphors

Fill in the blank:

For me, talking about cancer is like _______________________.

P: bursting people's bubbles ("הפלנו עוד חללית")

T: a rope that binds [people together]

B: reading from a book, about someone else

C: removing a stone from my heart ("להוריד אבן מהלב")

L: a key that opens my heart
and also
a springboard to get to know myself better ("מנוף")

MA: a destroyer ("קוטלת") that leads to healing ("ריפוי"); talking destroys the disease

Y: like sitting on a beach, under a tree ("הקלה")

RivkA: having a job [working in hazbara; educating the world about cancer]
and also
getting rid of a burden (by sharing the burden with everyone around me)

I was actually surprised by my own answer. Not by the second part; that, I knew. But by the first part.

I had not realized the amount of energy I put into trying to explain/inform/reassure the people around me. I had not recognized that as an additional burden.

I expend a tremendous amount of thought into "the packaging."

How do I let someone know, without freaking them out? How do I gently explain that this is not a "short term thing", but a life time of dealing with cancer? How do I evoke understanding without sympathy? (empathy is fine, but I do not want people feeling sorry for me) How do I communicate that I want things to be "normal", even as I am describing how abnormal everything is?

How can I expect other people to make sense of this, when I can not make sense of it myself?

I have no answers, but I keep trying to find them.

Cancer is a tough item to "package".

For me, talking about cancer is like having a job educating about cancer.

On the other hand, the fact that it is out in the open, the fact that I can talk/cry/laugh/joke about it, means that I am not alone in dealing with it. Every time I talk/cry/laugh/joke about my cancer, I deposit a little bit of my burden on someone else's shoulders.

For me, talking about cancer is a way of sharing my burden.



Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

4 comments:

muse said...

That makes sense with the mitzvah of "bikur cholim," which is supposed to move 1/60(?) of the illness.
You're facilitating other's doing the mitzvah.

tafka pp said...

Please, keep talking...

mrg & grm said...

I've given up educating people on a great many topics. I have neither the interest nor the energy to invest in this most of the time. But good for you!

RivkA with a capital A said...

muse -- Interesting thought. I am not sure that I would categorize this type of sharing as "bikur cholim." I don't really think of myself as "sick" (most of the time). However, it is true that everyone is taking a small part (1/60?) of the difficulty away and helping me feel better.

tafka pp -- My family members would argue that I don't really need to encouragement to talk. But I appreciate it, all the same! Thanks!

mrg -- Yeah, sometimes I am tired of it. But, I get to choose. I decide if and when (and how much) I want to educate others. Sometimes, I just smile and say "I am fine, thanks for asking."

"How 'bout those Mets?"

;-)