An interesting thing has happened (which on an side note, oddly enough, my spell check wanted to change happened to napalmed, I find that entertaining) over the past two years. I have noticed that I have become the go-to person for people who either have been diagnosed with cancer or love someone who has been diagnosed. It is especially true in my work place. Sadly, we are up to about a half dozen people there in about two years and several others outside of work. This is a particularly strange feeling for me because first of all, I know very little about cancer in general. I could tell you more than any of us ever care to know about breast cancer and all that comes with that, however, that is where my technical knowledge pretty much ends. Other diseases are foreign to me, and truth be told, my brain could not actually retain that amount of knowledge. Kudos to those who do!!
What I am learning though is that the emotional component of cancer is very different than the physical, and interestingly transcends the type of cancer. The feelings of fear, sadness, helplessness, desperation, and determination among others seem to be the same regardless of where those rogue cells take up shop. So, in that regard, I am finding my experience allows me to comfort others a bit and help the transition to that new normal that we all speak of because once you cross that line into cancer-land, there is no looking back. Your life changes. I can see their relief when they learn that the emotions they are feeling are common and they are not alone in this new, scary world. I can see they need to hear from someone who has been there that there is life (and a fairly decent one) after diagnosis and during treatment. I almost feel like a welcome week counsellor at the cancer college. While it is not something I would have chosen for myself, I do find that it can be rewarding to help someone and make them feel less fear and anxiety at such a horrific time in their lives. There are certain things you can only really comprehend if have had cancer or had someone extremely close to you with it. You have to live it to really know it.
I suppose this was a role I was meant to play. I can see the benefit and need of someone to be this person for others. It is an unexpected side effect of cancer for me, but one that I am starting to enjoy. I wish people didn't need it at all, but because they do, I am glad to help. I know who those wonderful women were for me when I first started my journey. They eased my pain and fear in immeasurable ways and so it's rather nice to be able to pay that kindness forward in their honor. I hope I have done for others what was done for me. That would be a beautiful turn of events and make me grateful to be able to help people in a very unique way.