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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,


Batya 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.

Anonymous 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?"