Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Circle of Support

When I found out I had cancer I felt so alone. It didn't matter that my husband was with me holding my hand. At least, not until the initial shock passed. And when it did something miraculous happened. My friends and family drew close around me like a wagon train circling tightly together to fend off dangers in the night.

My support circle (I like this term) formed organically with almost no effort on my part. The word got out that I was sick and suddenly they were there. It doesn't happen this way for everyone. I thank God for the loving people in my life.

People who cared about me seemed to know instinctively what I needed. My in laws, God bless them, made plans to fly across the country every three weeks to help while I underwent chemotherapy. A neighbor took in my youngest son, Ethan, on the afternoons that I couldn't lift my head off the couch.

Sheila (friends for 30 years) helped after my mastectomy
A lifelong friend flew out from Georgia to be with me when I had my mastectomy. My children cooked, cleaned, and cared for me to the best of their ability.

Alicia ran in the Alaska Run for Women
 My niece participated in a race in my honor. Another friend volunteered to give Ethan rides to and from school when I was so out of it that I didn't trust myself behind the wheel.

Marla called often from Hawaii and sent care packages in the mail
 My husband, God bless him too, never let go of my hand. He held me, bathed me, changed surgery dressings and emptied drains, and most importantly made me smile and laugh at a time when every happiness seemed like a double edged sword.

Every woman deserves a loving partner like mine

And that was just the beginning.

Two FaceBook friends who'd had cancer sent letters of support. They were my mentors, my sisters. They guided me through the darkness and listened to all my fears (and lots of whining and bitching, too).

Even with this help I did my best to go along as if nothing was happening. I kept my regular schedule until after two months of chemo I hit a wall and could do no more. It took all of my energy just to sleep. This may not make sense to everyone and I'm glad it doesn't. I posted on FaceBook that I really needed help. Within hours my phone rang. It was Ronda, a lovely lady I'd met through PSI Seminars.

Ronda said, "Tell me what you need and I'll get it done."

I collapsed into tears and couldn't speak. Ronda stayed quiet and waited. The only sound I heard through my cries was a gentle shhh it's going to be okay on the line.

Ronda got it done. She organized friends from PSI and The Henderson Writers' Group. Food appeared at my door each evening. My house was cleaned from top to bottom. All transportation for my children was provided. Holiday dinner was prepared for us by several families and delivered on Thanksgiving morning.

This is what I wish for anyone diagnosed with a serious illness. I wish for them to have a circling of the wagons, loved ones who hold back the dangers in the night, shielding you from stress and strain so you can give all your energy to recovery. This is the kind of world I want to live in and what we all deserve.

Since my illness I've often imagined what it would have been like to go through cancer alone. It makes my blood run cold to think about it. This happens too often. People are left (for many reasons) without a support system. My prayer is that we would all offer our help to those in need and be part of their support circle. I truly believe that it's a blessing to the receiver but also to the giver.

Thank you to those who were/are part of my support circle. I love you and have the deepest admiration for you.

Thank you.


  1. By allowing your friends to help you, you gave them an enormous gift. It can be hard to accept help. We don't want to be a burden to others. But, after all is said and done, all we have are our connections to one another.

  2. Carrie,

    Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to your thoughtful comment. I think about you and your husband often and hope that his recovery is going well.


  3. Lisa, I was reading a few of your posts and really enjoyed this one in particular. Many have shared this feeling with me that when they were struck with cancer, they felt very alone and isolated. Even though medicine has progressed leaps and bounds, having a great support system can be unparalleled. I had a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me whenever you get the chance. Thanks so much!


  4. Emily,

    I'd be happy to answer your question. I'll need your email address. If you post another comment I will see it while it is still in moderation. I won't post it here.

    I'm happy that you enjoyed the blog. As you can see I haven't written in a while. It turns out that my cancer experience is more difficult to write about that I anticipated.

    Have a great day!


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