A recurring theme throughout these 3.5 years of on-again, off-again cancer treatment is this: Accept every ounce of love and support sent your way because there is no way you will make it through this alone. The first go around, this was a difficult lesson for me to learn. My fiercely independent nature not only shied away from accepting help; it straight up refused to reach out and ask for it in times of clear need. I remember having a wake-up call one specific day. I was driving home from an appointment with my first reconstructive surgeon. Dr. Walsh had just inflated my expanders, which had required me to take some Valium (on top of pain medication i had already taken earlier in the morning). As i was making the 45-minute drive from her office to my next appointment with my dentist, it became clear to me that there was no way i should have been on the road driving. My head was nodding, and i know i swerved a little on the I-10. Did i pull over and call someone? No. I slapped my cheeks a couple of times and kept going… but i remember the guilt i felt the rest of the day about the danger i put myself and other drivers in. Someone could have gotten hurt. I could have gotten a DUI if pulled over. And the WORST part? I had three different people offer to take me to that appointment that morning, but i declined because i wanted to handle my own business. Someone could have died because i wanted to “handle my own business.”
It takes a village. I have come a long way in my understanding and acceptance of this.
So when i had this great idea to turn my weed garden into an actual garden filled with cancer-fighting foods, i knew just which members of my village to turn to.
Dear Amy and Marcia,
What you did for me this weekend was phenomenal. I have cried twice already looking at the pictures you sent me. From going to multiple stores for supplies; to coordinating access times with my roommate; to reweeding the space, which i SWEAR was just done a couple weeks ago by Jose; to planting basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, kale, mint, oregano, parsley, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes – you two gave me the perfect gift to come home to. Genuinely healthy eating is going to be my biggest barrier when i return home. I’m going to need willpower i know i don’t have… friends willing to make adjustments in where we go out to eat on special occasions… coworkers who no longer cheer up my rough days with deliveries from Starbucks or Elevate Coffee … a roommate who won’t enable me anytime i am stressed at home and giving her puppy dog eyes to go run to the store for some chocolate or Doritoes…. And when i find myself in moments when I’m sitting at home, stressed about whatever and on the verge of wavering, i can go out to that garden to weed it, water it, thin it, pick it – whatever it needs in that moment as i push past my cravings and concentrate on the bigger picture, the end game: me staying alive. Amy and Marcia, the gift you gave me today is a tool i will use for months to come. Thank you for being such a vital part of my village.
P.S. A special shout out to Tyler and Jenna as well. Tyler, thank you for going over to the house to fix the wiring on the sprinkler system. Jenna, thank you for going outside tonight and making sure that all the plants were getting watered evenly. I appreciate you both being a part of my village!!