I have been meaning to acknowledge the support we have been receiving for months. It has been nothing short of amazing!
In the weeks after diagnosis, some great friends offered us so much emotional support that I think we drained them for the rest of the year! There was a gorgeous friend who took it upon herself to print out all of our important Facebook pics and made a collage and had it framed for us. People have since been dropping by our house with delicious home cooked food, sending gifts in the way of scarves and hats, books, trinkets, and even a hand made journal and a symbolic silver necklace. We were loaned and then given a slow juicer and then the juicing experts returned and fixed our washing machine. Then there were the socks that arrived from Betsy in Chicago! This weekend we had our garden tended to, the gutters of our house emptied, soup delivered, and a magazine and flowers where left at the back door! We have had our children played with and minded. There has been many hugs and the phone calls which come at just the right time.
And just last week, I was again overwhelmed with emotion when another friend dropped by with food and then pulled out the most exquisite quilt that had been made by her sister and herself. The bulk of the work was done in the big smoke by one talented sister, and some finer details finished by the other closer to home. From choosing fabrics, stitching each section together, layering it with heart shapes where messages of support can be written by people that share this journey with me with marker pen, and sneakily downloading meaningful pics off my Facebook page of my family and I, and then having them printed on fabric and stitching them to the quilt which they named “The Quilt of Comfort”.
The time, love and thought in this quilt is unbelievable. I don’t recall ever being given something so meaningful and beautiful in my life and I am eternally grateful! These sisters know about breast cancer, having gone through the journey with their Mum several years ago.
When I was diagnosed my friend was one of the first people I told, and her Mum’s advice put me in touch with some wonderful free resources such as the “My Journey Kit” through the Breast Cancer Network of Australia. http://www.bcna.org.au/new-diagnosis
Then there are the countless responders to my blog and Facebook page. Little messages of support posted on photos or in-boxed direct messages, as well as the long paragraphs of advice I have received. And although it’s difficult to reply to every person, none of it goes unnoticed. I am grateful for every word that is written.
For all of the people who are sceptical about sharing their life with friends and family on social media, I have to say this breast cancer experience would be a very different one without having done this. Without leaning on social media and sharing my journey on the blog, I think I would be feeling very sad and isolated. But in sharing the journey, it has enabled a flood of support to come from places where I least expected it. All of this emotional and practical support has been more than I could ever have imagined months ago. This is a constant reminder that I will never be alone through this.
There are also the kind gestures that come from total strangers.
A turning point from my bleak emotional state last week came when my quintessential version of Santa appeared behind me at the checkout of the Coles Supermarket. His long white beard and hair, his rosy cheeks, his robust belly, all versions of the Santa I have always imagined. Except he was dressed in full blue overalls. He saw my balding scalp peaking out from under my headscarf and he stepped in and helped me unload my trolley onto the conveyor belt. In 38 years, a stranger has never approached me and handled my veggies before. It was a little strange and initially I felt uneasy at the offer. I can unpack my own groceries after all. But I went with it. He let out a huge robust laugh when he showed me the contents of his shopping basket and seemed a little embarrassed by what he had selected. Ten cans of braised beef. Some packets of chocolate biscuits and some hot dogs. There were some quick dinners for the 70 something Santa who I assumed was single or widowed.
When the job of unpacking my trolley of mostly organic greens was complete, Blue Santa and I had a quick conversation about weather, storms, dogs and neurotic whippets. There was no mention of cancer. But it was embedded deeply in both our minds. Of course, being Santa, he already knew about my cancer. In a flash, the transaction was complete and he wished me well on my merry way.
In the car park, when I loaded my groceries into the boot of my car, he walked past me again, smiled, nodded and winked and headed to his transport that was parked just near mine. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a sleigh. But at least his vehicle was red.
There are of course many acts of kindness and generosity I have missed here. There are just too many to mention. And I am overwhelmed when thinking about how I would ever begin to pay back or pay forward what has been done for myself and my family in recent months. It is hard to get down and depressed about the predicament when so many people are thinking of us, blanketing down on us their own versions of their “quilt of comfort”.