Telling people that I have breast cancer, before it's obvious that I do, is a strange and surreal feeling. Because *I* don't totally believe it yet. But I decided early on I want to be open and forthcoming about it. I wanted people to be comfortable asking me questions, and feel as un-awkward about interacting with me as possible. I know what it's like to feel like you don't want to upset or offend someone by bringing up a sensitive subject, and I don't want people to NOT talk to me because they don't know how to interact with me.
So here's my disclaimer:
If you're curious, ask me about it. Talk to me about it. I don't mind, and that lets me know you care about me. And if I'm not in the mood to talk about it, I'll let you know. And we can talk about it later. Deal?
I started with calling all of our family -- my parents & siblings. Then a handful of close friends, both local and all over the country. Then we told Ayla and Paxton, which we were nervous about, but which went well. Then church friends, and co-workers, and bible study groups...the circle widened.
Each time I told a new person or group of people, I was so thankful that I had done it. While everyone had slightly different responses and reactions that matched their own personalities and life experiences, they were ALL so kind and caring, heartbroken for me and offered unconditional support and assistance in any way they could. Some people cried. Many people were speechless and shocked. Everyone was genuine. I have never felt so loved by so many people in my entire life.
Because our world is so physically separated right now with the coronavirus quarantine, I've only been able to tell Ayla & Paxton in person. Ben told his parents in person. But everyone else has been over the phone or through a text message. While the text messaging method isn't always *right* for something like this, it did mean that I was able to keep a written record of how so many of my people responded--and for the scrapbooker/journaler in me that is a priceless keepsake for me to have.
What's really weird about all of this happening with a backdrop of a worldwide pandemic is that other than my immediate family, I have not (and probably won't) receive a hug from anyone else, maybe in months. That's all kinds of strange, and a little sad.
Instead of hugs, I guess I'm getting gifts!
Little treats keep showing up on my doorstep from my friends and family.
Things to cheer us up, things that will be helpful down the road, and things that are just plain silly and "extra" because -- well, it's for me -- and I'm a little extra sometimes. :)
I don't think I really ever fully realized how wonderful my tribe is.