Interesting Times: Update 21
It’s my favorite “Interesting Times” update yet: an update about cancer that isn’t really about cancer at all.
Three things have happened lately.
One, I got confirmation that the radioactive treatment absorbed into the cells we knew were there and is hard at work – and there are no new scary areas to worry about.
Two, I discovered that people have been putting money into a GoFundMe account for my medical bills.
Three, I walked into a “fuck cancer” surprise party full of balloons and ribbons and banners and theme drinks and theme colors and some of my favorite people.
It’s a trifecta of wonder. I have done an awful lot of hugging and happy-crying. But I’ve also sometimes frozen up and found it hard to react. Particularly when it comes to the money. See, I am so proud of my freelance career. Though I make less than I did, I’m exponentially happier, and I’d been careful and still had a modest emergency fund… but it wasn’t enough. It couldn’t absorb being unable to work full-time without disability leave and paying everyday bills plus thousands of dollars of hospital bills on a single income.
Without the people in my life, I very literally don’t know where I’d be. Over and over they’ve gone so ludicrously out of their way to be thoughtful and patient and caring and helpful and uplifting and kind and generous. So I feel humbled and glad – but embarrassed and guilty, too. I feel like I should’ve been able to handle it on my own. And I know I’m not friends with millionaires. Their money could be put to other uses.
It’s an issue of scale. If one person does you a favor once, you know how to express how surprising and lovely it is. But when your life feels turned upside-down by the kindness of others, it’s hard to know what to say without sounding trite or fake. If anyone thought that I haven’t seemed to deserve all this, they’re right. If they thought that I hadn’t been expressive enough in my appreciation, they’re also right. I don’t and I haven’t.
I’m going to try to put into words how much it’s all meant, I’m going to keep working to deserve the blessings I’ve been given, and I’m going to keep paying it forward, but while I’m trying, right now, I don’t always seem to know how to do much but cry and hug. In the meantime, I’m trying to listen to one of the wisest people I know, who told me this:
“You take from your well and give. Now is your time to let other people fill your well. It’s understandable to feel uncomfortable with receiving money, but right now, this is how your well needs to be filled. People attach so much value to money, because it’s tangible. However, the things that people need the most are the intangible: the support, the love, the sounding board. Let your world be turned upside down; let people help you turn it around.”
Background on these interesting times:
First post – Diagnosis
Update 1 – The plan / fear
Update 2 – Giving blood
Update 3 – Post-surgery
Update 4 – The other half of the time
Update 5 – Infection
Update 6 – Grossly unremarkable
Update 7 – All about RAI
Update 8 – Withdrawing
Update 9 – Isolation
Update 10 – A neck, in 5 pictures
Update 11 – Don’t look up
Update 12 – Business as usual
Update 14 – Yes, I skipped 13
Update 15 – Copy paste
Update 16 – What Allison said
Update 17 – Good results don’t get you off the hook
Update 18 – Here we go again
Update 19 – RAI 2.0
Update 20 – Good enough