Day 23: Support
As I’ve mentioned before, what I’ve got – cancerly speaking, that is – ain’t that bad. Sure it’s close to my brain, which is scary, but my surgery went as well as it could’ve and after this treatment’s done there’s a 98% chance I’ll live out a normal, happy life. My doctor even said that if he had to pick a type of cancer in a certain location, it’d be what I got, where I got it. Flattering, no? As weird of a statement as that is, he’s got a point. There are few interactions I have at the Hope Lodge that don’t remind me how lucky (well, relatively lucky) I am.
Since starting treatment here, I’ve tried extra hard to be there for people, but I don’t know why. I have conversations that are longer than my schedule would have preferred, but I’m usually okay with them. I feel more generous, sharing what I can. With too much time on my hands, I’ve been thinking lots about what makes me act the way I do.
For one, I like people, and I’ve always been someone who’s cared about others more than most. I notice when people feel off, I try to reach out to people who seem shy/nervous, and I share what I can when I can. Some of you would call me a good person. Some might say that I need to feel needed. I’d say it’s a bit of both, but mostly the good person part ;).
On a baser level, there are moments when I feel guilty. Real guilty. Guilty like my dog feels when she just tore apart my sister’s underwear. I’ve written about it before, but I feel guilty that my situation is objectively not as bad as many, many people I’ve met here. It’s not a good emotion, but it’s there.
In another sense, I simply crave the companionship of others. I’m here alone, away from my friends and family. People like being around other people, and I’m no exception.
More than anything, though, I’m grateful for all that people have done for me in the past seven months. The cards and care packages I’ve received. Friends making the grueling drive up to Boston (fact: Massachusetts highways are f-ing terrible). Family friends cooking food to help out my parents while they helped me. People at the Lodge reaching out to me warmly, sharing food, friendship and, on occasion, their vehicles. Whether it’s rational or not, all of this goodness has left me feeling indebted. It’s like the torch of good deeds has been passed my way and it’s my duty to pass it along whenever the opportunity arises, kind of like the kid in Pay It Forward. You know, minus the part where he gets stabbed in the end. Whoops! Spoiler!
Being supportive can be tough, though. Some conversations here are truly heartbreaking. I’ve had a father of a patient tell he’d give anything to trade places with his kid. I’ve listened to another patient from a foreign land delightedly tell me about his home country in broken English, and then realize the pain and longing he hides every day. Sometimes I don’t want to listen to any of this. I just want to hide in my room, ignore their problems and wait for my own to end. Something about that feels inherently wrong though, even if I can’t pinpoint why that is.
Well, ladies and gents, tomorrow I will be past the halfway point. Seventeen treatments down, eighteen to go!