Doing nothing

I haven’t posted for almost a week because I felt like CRAP until last Thursday. Then, I was overwhelmed by how much there was to do after sitting on the couch for a week.

About six days ago, sitting on that couch with wine and a pot brownie mellowing my bloodstream, I watched my oldest friend Clair do the dishes. It was a weird experience, I’m not the kind to sit around. I’m the kind to get up and clear the table.

Yet, half fuzzy-headed and half-nauseated, I sat there gratefully and watched her scrape the plates from the dinner she’d brought over. I watched her wipe down the counters. I watched her put away the leftovers. I watched her dodge the dog, a food-aholic that always tries to lick the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. I watched as she put wine bottles and foil in recycling. I watched as she skeptically eyed all the mac and cheese left on the kid’s plate as dessert came into play. I explained that the kid had already had two pieces of fruit and a plate of pasta when she came home from school. Then, I watched as she called to the kid and asked if she wanted apple cake with caramel sauce. I watched her cut the cake and serve it.

I gratefully ate the cake. The last 10 days have been like that. I am learning that it is much more difficult to accept help than to give it.

Thanks, Clair.


About leftbreast

I have had breast cancer. I was diagnosed at 47, and am now 49. I have finished "active treatment," two surgeries, chemo, radiation, monoclonal antibodies. These days, I only take a drug to suppress my uptake of estrogen, since my tumor was highly reactive to that hormone. I have been married to my husband Pete for 21 years. I have a stepdaughter, Maureen, 30, and a daughter, Erin, 10. I've been a freelance magazine journalist for 20-plus years, covering everything from Chinese foreign policy to Catholic nuns to endangered species. I have had a great life. I have lived in Asia and all over the United States. I have spent nights with tree-sitters in Oregon and with astronomers at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. I've been to a cocktail party on the poopdeck of a British destroyer docked in Shanghai. I've taken the bus to Tibet, and tramped through the cloud forests of Panama with biologists. A magazine sent me on a raft trip down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon; another sent me to cooking school for a week. I have spent time with celebrities, presidents and heroin dealers. I love my work. I have a loving, supportive family and more friends than I probably deserve. I have had the space and time to camp, ski, cycle, garden, cook and spoil my pets (an Australian shepherd, a German shepherd and a tabby cat). If it all ended tomorrow, I would have to say that it has been a really, really good ride. When I was in thick of treatment, I was simply fighting for more time. Now, I'm trying to connect the experience of cancer with the rest of my life, with the time that's been won. I hope the cancer never comes back, but if it does, I'll be ready. That's what this blog is about.
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2 Responses to Doing nothing

  1. Clair Hadley says:

    You’re very welcome. While it is a hard lesson to learn, it is also an important lesson to learn! I’m sure that this whole experience will give you a perspective on, well, perspective. And if you put up resistance to being helped we will be forced to skywrite “Surrender, Dorothy” over your house over and over and over again.

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