Saturday, November 06, 2021

Advice for cancer patients

 Yesterday I decided to repack some of Phil's things in nicer boxes, and then to put the sympathy, get well, and thinking of you cards, notes and letters inside the boxes. There were well over 200 of those.  Of course, then I had to pause and reread them, which is sort of kick in the stomach, but I remember the comfort they brought us in the Spring of 2020 and when he died in April.  One is particularly worth sharing because it's good advice for cancer patients.  It's from his cousin who is 12 years older and was a great help to us in filing the paper work for social security disability (although the first check didn't arrive until after he died).

"I was hoping to be able to find words of strength and encouragement that I could share as you deal with all your health challenges.  But it's hard to find anything profound and helpful to say, though I wish I could.  I had cancer five years ago and it's a long, lonely journey in many respects--no one else can really understand what you're going through, even when someone has had cancer themselves. So I mostly just wanted to tell you to hang in there, keep fighting, and don't shut people out.  I wanted to do everything alone, and just be alone, and in retrospect I wish I'd let more people in and had been able to be more welcoming of the support.  At least more welcoming of the food people offered that we kept turning down!

My one cancer survival tip is to tell you to laugh every chance you can get--not an easy task on the days when it's hard to even get out of bed but it's worth creating every possible opportunity to do so.  For months I watched only comedies and comedy specials on TV.  I rented ridiculous movies, watched every stand-up comedian I could find, and went to every funny movie I could go to.  I was the only thing I enjoyed while going through treatment.  I'm sure the endorphins that laughter produces helped--but mostly it just felt like an escape and respite from doctors and hospitals and all the people hovering over me and all the cancer talk.

Completely unrelated but I also, for some reason, enjoyed putting together jigsaw puzzles--although not sure that's something you'd like.  I sounds pretty old-fashioned and dull (although as the most elderly of the Corbett cousins I'm sure it's my duty to share old-fashioned ideas), but I found it very soothing.  I was such a concrete and orderly thing to do, when everything else seem chaotic and out of control--I knew how to start with the edges, how to organize the colors, how to finish, how to rip it up when I was done.  And best of all I could do it even when my brain was foggy."

And she included Rolling Stone's list of the 25 funniest movies of all time.

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