There is one episode in particular that I’ve been thinking of lately. You remember the one where Jon Lovitz’s character, Gary, lies about having cancer? This turns into a pretty good deal for Gary. People are extra nice to him, he gets the girl, and Jerry buys him a gift certificate to the Hair Team for Men. As Jerry puts it, “I was so nice to him, I almost made myself sick.” Well, I have to admit, from the very start of this whole cancer episode of mine, I’ve thought of that crazy show. People have been so nice to me; I hope they aren’t making themselves sick.
From the first week I have had friends bring dinner, cookies, pies, candy, gift cards, flowers, homemade bread, giant jars of Nutella, and more. I have received a prayer quilt and a prayer shawl, both handmade, plus a hand knitted hat and scarf. Not to mention the cards, letters, and books. After each round of chemo my family has been treated to wonderful home cooked meals prepared by wonderful, and very busy, women…women who really don’t have time to be cooking for someone else.
On different days, I’ve walked into my room at school to find a variety of surprises, from a gift bag full of BeautiControl products for my lizardy chemo skin, to beautiful flowers and cards and even several anonymous gifts that encouraged my faith and hope. I have enjoyed perks such as free make-up from the Look Good Feel Better program and been adopted and cared for by the good people at Therapon Skin Health.
The caring, love, encouragement, and generosity of friends have been so much more than I ever expected. I keep expecting things to slow down…something like donor fatique, but my sweet friends and supporters continue to be steadfast and hanging on with me. And this last week has really topped it all.
Last Saturday I had several of my China travel cohorts participate in the Little Rock Komen Race for the Cure. They informed me a few weeks prior to the race that they were planning to walk in my honor. They did just that, and even had tee shirts printed that named their team “Patti’s Pirates”. (This was due to me feeling like a pirate in my scarves and, at some point, mentioning that I needed an eye patch and parrot. They took this idea and ran with it, creative girls that they are.) I was humbled and amazed that friends who I just met this past summer would do something so sweet for me. Of course, traveling around China for three weeks does tend to bring people close.
|Patti's Pirates at the Komen Race for the Cure in Little Rock.|
Next year I plan to join them as a survivor.
I finished out my week Friday night at La Huerta's with the Nons. We gathered for one last hurrah before my surgery. Earlier in the day, I was contacted by one of my elementary art teaching cohorts in my district and was told that a couple of them wanted to meet with me to make a delivery from all of the art teachers, so they just joined up with my group of Nons. It was a blast mingling one group of friends with another, both equally special to me. In fact, everyone got along so swimmingly that those art teachers may just have to join us again sometime...it seems Nons and art teachers have similar temperaments. We gabbed and talked shop and basically celebrated life.
Then it turned out both groups had gifts for me. It was beginning to feel like my birthday...and beginning to be a bit embarrassing.
I was starting to feel like maybe I was Gary. Was I taking advantage of my condition? Should this be happening? Yes, I was enjoying the attention and the gifts...cancer's perks maybe? But unlike Gary, I did not feel deserving...in fact I felt a bit guilty. Surely there is a limit to how much a person can be supported and fawned over...how much niceness one person is allowed. Was I not over my limit?
But then I came home and went through my week's worth of gifts. I showed my family my hats and scarves and modeled a few. They marveled at all the other gifts and at the kindness of my friends and coworkers. What a great example this has been to my sons. My father, who is currently suffering the slow decline of dementia, has been amazed at my stories of the support I have, and always exclaims, "You have lots of really nice friends!" To which I reply, "Yes, I surely do, Dad."
There is no way anyone could ever actually enjoy having cancer, but what a blessing it is to have friends who know how to make that almost seem possible.