Surviving Breast Cancer with the Help of Online Support
Writing a blog for “The Hot Mom’s Club” – now there’s a hoot at 49! Life’s mid-forties are supposed to be filled with predictable, inevitable things like working on a sagging butt, how to come up with college tuition and what to do about those frown and laugh lines. I was approaching the prime of my life. I had a wonderful partner of almost 25 years, three great kids entering the teen arena (happy joy-joy) and a great job. What I never expected to be thrust at us all were the words “you have cancer.” Three little words that threatened to turn my world upside down.
I wanted to be the one to tell my kids, to protect them from the “c” word, its implications and keeping their faith in me as their mother. Three lives that had depended upon me for everything had to believe that I wasn’t going to lose this battle, right? This was just a detour, I’d have to assure them, some small journey I’d have to take and we’d get through this and be back to normal before they knew it. Now I just had to believe it myself.
One of the hardest things I had to do was to try to convince them (and myself) that I wouldn’t let them down. I had to, not only convince them I’d survive and thrive, but remain the person they knew. I was their mother, their protector and now I planned to be their hero. The most amazing thing is that kids have the uncanny ability to make you believe in yourself. They watch your “cue,” your every move to reassure themselves when they’re troubled, everything will be just fine. We try to make them believe there would always be happy endings and storybook finishes. The same reassurance you have always provided to them actually has you believing too that everything will be fine. Could I take this same tactic and successfully beat this demon? Who would assure me though?
Enter my Yahoo! BreastCancer2 group! Many people are completely in the dark about the concept of virtual support groups. I never felt more comfortable than within this group of women who had been where I was about to enter. Their words of comfort are so necessary in a world where sometimes you feel your flying solo. Although I was surrounded by family and friends, this whole cancer thing was alien in their world. None of them had ever experienced any of the things I had or was about to undergo. They could hold my hand and tell me it would be fine, yet I have my doubts that they even believed their own words during the start of this journey. These new girls made it manageable and “do-able” – something no one around me understood.
I think one of the reasons online support groups worked for me was because it was a private world where no one could look in my eyes and see this new fear they contained. Without this group, I would have long ago kept those covers over my head and submerge myself into the darkness that had beckoned to me with two hands, especially through chemo therapy. They’d done it, gotten through it and put it behind them as “been there, done that.”
I have no doubt in my mind that, had I not had my “girls” to fall back on, I wouldn’t have succeeded in my journey this far. These women helped keep me grounded, safe and applauded my triumphs and held my shoulders when fear became overwhelming. As survivors, we’re so afraid to look too far ahead, yet we anxiously try to peek into our future. They made it easier for me to accept the fact that no matter what, I had this virtual safety net at my fingertips to help nurture and encourage me through every step.
I hope this helps you to better understand what you’re feeling is the “new norm.” My Yahoo! BreastCancer2 group gave me a better sense of what waging this battle was all about – through stories and personal e-mails between virtual strangers who became sisters. It’s a physical, emotional and spiritual adventure and I hope you feel what we share through cyberspace. Experience for yourself what “virtual” friendship and support are all about and remember, no matter what choices you’ve made, we’re in this together.
For more information on a Yahoo! Group that would be of interest to you, please visit: http://groups.yahoo.com/.