After our first support group ended, I was eager for us to meet again. I was excited when I found out that our new group was forming after the chagim (holidays), and that S was going to be our facilitator. I had met S last year, on the Beit Natan winter retreat last year; she made a really good impression. M had been such a skilled facilitator that it was imperative that the person who took the group over would also be highly capable.
I naively expected everyone from our first group to return, and was a bit surprised when only four of us (L, M, T, and me) showed up for the first meeting. C was also supposed to attend, but she was not feeling well (we were all quite concerned about her). There were supposed to be several other new women, ten in all. For each of the first two meetings, only one new woman joined, but did not return.
Tonight was our fourth meeting. L, who had attended the third meeting, returned, and there were two other new women, M & R. C also came, which was really exciting since she had missed all the previous meetings (she was really not well for a few months). So, tonight, we were eight women. It was really nice to finally feel like a group.
We had really good discussions in previous meetings. However, since we were such a small group, with almost no one new, we really felt the absence of the others.
During our second meeting, we shared what we knew about the women from our previous group. P was too tired to come the meetings, Y was not doing very well, and MC chose not to continue because the commute is too difficult (she came from Dimona, almost 2 1/2 hours away). Sadly, I learned that E had passed away. That meeting, we spoke a lot about loss and the challenges of being in an environment, whether it be a support group or the chemo ward, where encountering death is an inevitability. It was a difficult meeting emotionally, though very important. Sometimes we need to allow our fears to come out of the box so we can look them straight in the eye.
Since there were so many new women tonight, half of the meeting was spent introducing ourselves and catching up. The other half was spent discussing how we deal with the unexpected. In particular, how we deal with surprises that force us to confront our disease -- such as the need to go to the emergency room when you just have a simple cold that happens to include a fever. (If you don't understand the reference, see here)
One theme that consistently arises in our group is how to find the ballance between living our lives as "normal, regular" women, and living our lives as cancer patients. For me, this is a constant challenge.
It is difficult for me to accept that every time I have a minor fever I have to go to the hospital (though on normal days, I can at least bypass the emergency ward and go straight to the oncology day ward). It is difficult for me to adjust to the fact that I need to actually take my temperature, and not just rely on how I am feeling. And it is difficult to know that I will spend many "unnecessary" hours in the hospital, just to be "safe."
This is my "new normal." I do not like it. But, it is what it is.
So, I am trying to learn to accept it.
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
more observations from the USA (Chicago day 4-5)
4 hours ago