'Cancer Warriors': Fighting Cancer with Karate
April 18, 2019 – Kenneth Rebstock
How to Talk with Your Children About Your Cancer Diagnosis
April 15, 2019 – Jamie Aten, Ph.D.
Proton Therapy and Barbecue: My Recipe for Beating Cancer and Being Myself
April 01, 2019 – Melba Fujiura
Finding Beauty In Strength
March 27, 2019 – Roberta Lombardi
Do You Want to Have a Long Life or Babies?
March 01, 2019 – Caitlin Schroering
How Grieving Impacts Sleep
February 23, 2019 – Lisa Smalls
From Survivor to Caregiver
February 13, 2019 – Joanne Lam
A Work of Art, Not a Work of Cancer
February 12, 2019 – Cora Fahy
A Geneticist Saved My Life
February 04, 2019 – Geni J.I. White, RN, MS
What to Do When a Friend Gets Cancer
January 31, 2019 – Robert Heywood

From a Patient With Cancer: Thanks for Not Helping

BY Janet Leff
PUBLISHED July 12, 2016
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
Too much help may just help me deteriorate faster than necessary. Thank you for caring so much, and for your willingness to help me through this cancer journey. Here is something that can help me a lot. PLEASE let me pick things up and carry things, when I feel able; it keeps the muscles active! Of course I need to keep very honest with myself on any given day as to how I am feeling and functioning. Living with “chronic cancer” is taking some adjustments.

March marked 14 years since my diagnosis and mastectomy. In 2005, there were five tumors on my spine and two on my hip. Radiation dealt with this. Then in January 2012, the scans showed metastases in my lungs, bones and liver. Now four years later I am hoping for a reassessment of all the tumor, nodules and lesions, looking at if they have disappeared and if they are dead, asleep or growing? As a friend said, “You need an audit.”

There are days when I feel functional enough to possibly get some part-time work, others when I think I must be on the final decline. It is so unpredictable. My goal is to stay as functional as I can for as long as I can. Meanwhile, I look on what used to be normal activities as my aerobics for the day. I’m now looking at all the muscles that get moved by emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, folding, putting it away and taking the garbage out. These all help me stay flexible. Granted, the time to do some of this is a lot longer than it used to be. So I need to keep an ongoing list of things I know I cannot or should not be doing. When good friends come over, I am ready to ask them to do certain things.

Acceptance is such an important part of staying as independent as I can. When I took the sheets off the bed and ran them through the laundry, I was OK. It was later when I needed to remake the bed that it was very hard. It took two hours before there was the energy to make the bed, but I felt so good at being able to do this all in the same day! Maybe I also need to buy another set of sheets as my old ones don’t fit these new mattresses! Then I could make the bed while still feeling OK!

As a retired social worker and addiction counselor, it is frequently hard, weird and confusing being the patient. I can still happily live alone and do most things. It may take a week to do an hour’s job, and I do get behind, especially with house work, but then I need to ask for some help, and be specific. Now would be a good time to start my list of little and big things I need help with doing, lifting or just straightening up.
Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the General Discussions CURE discussion group.

Related Articles


Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In