Grace and Gratitude is Imperative to Recovering from Breast Cancer

As the days immediately after surgery turned to days awaiting radiation, Gaye became restless. She worked but felt like she accomplished nothing. She slept but remained tired. She moved but felt like she was going nowhere. Some of it was pain and recovery. Mostly, it was anxiety.

Yet, over and over again, the warm embrace of friends that became family sustained her through the apprehension and tumult. Those gestures that we all-too often take for granted gave Gaye a sense of refuge. They became tangible expressions of love.

Acts of kindness is love in motion

From La Patisserie in Austin

Our dear friend Minh continued to check on us. As previously mentioned she left absolutely wonderful macaroons for us in the middle of the night just because she thought Gaye would like them. While still slugging away on the bar review, she dropped by cookies from Crumbl. That’s love, right there.

Cookies from Crumbl

Grace is often found where least looked for

Surprising as it may be, I’m not a “fun” coworker. I show up ahead of time, do everything asked of me, and leave (on time). In short, I work to support my life. I do not live to support a job. Likewise, Gaye is a naturally reserved person and has similar distance with her coworkers. Still, we arrived home from one errand to find two (2) separate deliveries from Edible Arrangements. One from each set of coworkers. 

More than a nice daily treat of fruit, the arrangements conveyed care and concern that transcend differences. Because they were delivering two arrangements, the folks at Edible Arrangements threw in balloons and an Edi bear. The balloons represented a daily reminder of consideration from people we hardly know. Bonus points: the Edi bear is smaller than the teddybear Gaye had used for a seat-belt cushion and therefore worked better. 

Reach out and touch someone, really 

Our dear friend Natalie called Gaye every couple of days. More than just two nurses talking, it was communing and supporting in the most immediate and vital way—listening and discussing. Ann, texted and called Gaye to talk even as she grieved her dear husband. Together they rose above their pain for a moment to discuss politics or nutty things in the news. Likewise, our Uncle Dwight and Gaye’s brother Todd texted us regularly.

Shelly started out as MY writing buddy. Then one year she invited us to her annual halloween shindig—a fun costume affair without the typical booze/debauchery. Gaye took to her immediately. Shelly’s texts lifted Gaye’s spirits immeasurably. The same is true of my brother, Paul and his husband Rick’s phone calls and meme-texts. Our neighbors, Dawn, and  Claudette, both nurses, (one full-time and the other retired) texted every couple of days, to check on us. More than just an ad slogan from a million-years ago—when you text or call the recovering patient, you truly are touching their heart. 

Practical magic   

After a day of medical appointments and errands, we arrived home to find Linda waiting for us. Still a surrogate mother to Gaye, Linda and her son, (our dear friend) Michael brought a bouquet of flowers for Gaye. As well as a rack of barbequed ribs.

Both gifts lifted Gaye’s spirits. The roses went on our dresser where she could see them first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. The ribs…well, the ribs really don’t need much justification. They’re simply wonderful. Those ribs also spared  (puns) me from cooking a meal and cleaning up after.

My coworker Kim gave us a blanket from her prayer group. That we continue to cherish both the blanket and the compassion behind it. 

The thought does count

It’s not just flowers and food and stuff that count. It is certainly more than stuff. Monica, herself a breast-cancer survivor) proved more a sister than a friend. She took many phone calls, at all hours. Those calls were a lifeline when the anxiety was standing on Gaye’s neck.  

My scribble sibling, Jennifer sent a collection of comic strips for Gaye to read. Our friend Hung sent a warm-toasty package of self-care. Gaye’s cousin Sandra made the drive across town to cook us a meal and offered to clean our house. There is no over-estimating how much Luis Miranda’s love and compassion both compassionate haircare and in weekly texts.

My scribble sibling Fiona, who hosts my crime notions on her blog, set up a beautiful space for peaceful contemplation in Gaye’s honor, complete with gorgeous orchids. Kari, one of my oldest friends, reaches out on social media to ask about Gaye, weekly. For that matter, every single Facebook like and comment on my posts get on social media is an endorphen shot in the arm for Gaye, (who does not have a social media prescence of her own).

The point here is contact. If someone you love is battling cancer—or any other healthcare challenge—you may feel yourself pulling back. Don’t do that.

Doubts grow with time

What do you say to someone who might die? How do you begin to express your feelings, especially if there has been time and distance between you? What if you can’t do anything for them?

Greeting cards are still a thing. Many of them have a message already written. Our friend Sharon send a get-well card before and after surgery. Receiving those cards made Gaye’s day.

Nothing shrinks the distance like hearing a friendly voice. It’s been awhile? Guess what, friends and greetings are always RIGHT on time. By reaching out to the person (who often feels all alone in their trials) you are doing EVERYTHING for them. You’re saying, “I’m here. I care about you. You’re not alone.” That is life itself.

Edi-Bear says stay positive, stay strong.

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