I am a writer of two books. Two very different topics — clutter clearing and cancer coping. As one author, I am still trying to fit the two together. I am not sure they always do. The clutter clearing book touches on the commonality we share in trying to manage and organize all the extraneous stuff that creeps into our lives and it offers lots of seasonally organized suggestions to help work through clutter, sometimes with a touch of humor. It is a book on household organization written by a younger and more OCD me who tells her funny clutter stories.
Cancer, on the other hand ... hmm. Not always so funny, and yet, there is humor in cancer too. Maybe cosmic humor, but from our perspective, cancer is just not that funny. OK, it was funny the morning my husband and I were getting ready at our bathroom sinks and my head was bald as a baby’s bottom and he turned to me with his hair gel container and told me to get more the next time I was at my hair stylist. It was also funny on a family trip to Wisconsin during my “chemotherapy summer,” that my daughter who wasn’t quite legal drinking age in Minnesota could legally have a beer in Wisconsin because she was with us, her parents, but I wasn’t drinking because of my chemotherapy.
My second book, “Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools,” honestly shares both of my cancer journeys and offers a variety of tools to help cancer patients and the people who love them cope with their cancer diagnosis. I wrote the book that I wish someone could have handed to me at the time of my breast cancer diagnosis, my first cancer diagnosis.
Both books, I suppose, ultimately deal with focusing on priorities and getting better at letting go of the rest of the “stuff of life.” I tried to go through my cancer honestly and I wrote about my cancer honestly. I decided it was best, given lemons, to try to make lemonade. I compiled the emotional coping tools I was learning as I journaled through cancer. I wanted to help other survivors and their loved ones from diagnosis, through active treatment and after active treatment.
In truth, there were a lot of tears and fears for me, but I decided that both the courageous, graceful people and the tears-and-fears cancer patients get through their treatment. Both, whether they share it outwardly or not, live with some degree of fear of recurrence and with this uncertainty for the rest of their lives. How can we cope for life with that?
Clear cancer clutter: Part of getting through cancer, is putting the cancer supplies away, maybe gradually or maybe all at once, but do put them away. Yes, I worry that I might need the wig and other things again, but at one point, I literally had the box of cancer supplies on a high shelf in my closet — that meant that every day, for weeks, those items were literally hanging over my head. Think about that. Sometimes it is extremely helpful to put the visual reminders away!
How to weed out the cancer supplies: Safely and properly dispose of unused and expired medications. Clear out cancer paraphernalia that you don’t care to keep. Do save medical records in case you need the information down the road. Do properly store wigs and any other supplies and information that you want to hang on to just in case. Store the keepers in a place that isn’t too hot or cold or damp or dry, but store them in a place you don’t see regularly, like under the stairs or on a shelf in an out-of-the-way corner.
Limit cancer’s space in your home: Move forward with the other aspects of your life when you can. Yes, cancer was and is part of your life and you can choose here. Don’t give cancer prime real estate in your mind, in your heart, in your life or in your home!