Thursday, March 29, 2012
I am in Oslo and last night I had this crazy idea to drink wine at the reception and threecourse dinner – after almost seven years of sobriety it is really weird to get such a strong impulse. Anyway, I followed program - texted an AA-friend and shared in my "recovering alcoholic" spark team. Which meant I had to connect my computer to get online – and there was a mail from this friend who has breastcancer. Her report from pathology had not been good, she is to get chemo and will be doing a skeleton scint and she is of course really frightened. She is 45 and in the middle of life.
And my experience can be used – I am grateful! I know where she is, I remember the feelings and I have a lot to share... and it seems to work, she always writes back and tells me that whatever I am doing helps and she can laugh, feel better and get to sleep.
And I am thinking about what I am doing that is good. The best thing I am doing is to have survived - I remember that during my treatment I loved to read about people who had breastcancer – and was living as usual five or ten years later.
I can also tell her that my tumours were big, that I had to do several scints and that my tumours were aggresionlevel three - and here I am very alive and without any signs of cancer as far as I know...
The most important thing I do for her is to tell her that my cancer was not "Light" and to be the living example. Not much competence required to do that.
But what I do that requires some human skill is that I do not assure her that she will live, or that treatment is nothing or that she should not panic over losing her hair.
What I do is tell her that she is alive now and better live while she is doing it. There are many people killed in stupid car accident while they worry over what to give their mother in la for christmas. Here and now is all we got – cancer or not.
I can also tell her how I tried to manage my panic - from brain research people I have learned that it can be handled by giving the brain something unemotional to do – write nouns, try to read the alphabet backwards, write down any horsename one could think of beginning with "P"...whatever that is occupying but with no feelings. Not plan ahead, not try to think "positive" just do something here and now to live here and now.
And when she panics over losing her hair I say that she might wait until she does it and panic then, for now it is still there (and btw I never lost mine although I "should" had gotten a good whig in vain there...)
I tell her that it is scary and nothing you wish for, but it can be handled and you can survive. One day at a time. One step at the time. Live while you are living...
I never thought that those dreadful experiences I had could be of use, but I am really grateful to be able to help my friend.
And if those crazy thoughts about drinking had not entered my mind yesterday I had probably not connected my computer - and my friends cry for help would have been unnoticed until this morning.
I really should trust life!