Sunday, May 21, 2017

Family, Friends, Frivolity, and Fears

My life has been centered around appointments with various and sundry doctors since April 7th. There always is an ominous feeling that enshrouds the car with every doctor visit as I wonder what fresh hell am I about to experience. Now that my surgery is scheduled for this week, I had no appointments during this past week, and that has felt borderline weird.

Despite the dearth of appointments with my docs, I have managed to keep pretty busy. One of the great things about the people in my life is that those who know me well know that I do not like to dwell on stuff over which I have no control. They also know that I like to laugh and to do silly stuff.

Among the week’s highlights that made me smile this week were the following:

Mother’s Day weekend with the family
Unexpected reunion visit with my sister (and her husband) and my brother
Pissment party with my NEIFPE friends/minions

I had lots of excellent family time this week. Spending time and connecting with my family was good for my mental health, and even though I know that my family cares about me, their physical presence means a lot.

When I first learned of my diagnosis, we decided to have a Pissment Party to express our outrage at cancer and all other things that are annoying before I started my surgery and chemotherapy. Usually, when we have our NEIFPE (Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education) get togethers, several of us are inspired to do something silly that will make everyone laugh. However, after a trip to the party store, I was decidedly lacking in inspiration. By the time yesterday afternoon rolled around, nothing was seeming very funny and the whole idea was falling into the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” category. Plus, the rainy, dreary weather did not help my mood.

Having said that, one of the things that I have always loved about our NEIFPE group is that if one of us can’t do something, someone else steps up to the plate, and in typical NEIFPE fashion, a few minutes before the party was to begin, two of our friends arrived with a Power Point sing along.
Meanwhile, the only inspiration that I could generate was to provide paper and pencils for everyone to make lists of people and things that piss them off. After much food and drink and laughs, we had no trouble coming up with annoyances, and many had several pages of pissment. We all laughed as people read their lists, especially at the bottled up frustrations and anger we were all feeling. After that, we had our sing along with lyrics and pictures that were hilarious and touching. All in all, we had a lot of laughs, all of which left me feeling very loved and supported by my family and friends.
All of the above has given me lots of time to think about what lies ahead of me. While surgery is not on my hit parade favorite things, I do want to get this show on the road. I hope my surgeon goes in and finds out where the cancer originates and digs out all of the unwelcome cancer cells and gets rid of as many of the little critters as she can round up.

When people ask me if I am fearful of the surgery or of cancer, the answer is NO. While I am usually fairly unflappable, there are very few things that frighten me. The only thing that worries/frightens me is the prospect of losing my independence, the prospect of not being able to do things for myself, the prospect of being helpless. Being unable to fend for myself is truly frightening for me.

In the words of Maya Angelou: Having courage does not mean that we are unafraid. Having courage and showing courage mean we face our fears. We are able to say, “I have fallen, but I will get up.”

Facing my fears is not going to be easy, but I am fortunate that I am surrounded by family and friends who love and support me. I know they will do their best to help without making me feel helpless.


  1. You got this, Phyllis! I'm keeping you in my good will thoughts.

  2. Here's the deal: you let us do for you when you can't do for yourself and take pleasure in your temporary Queen-of-the-Minions status. After that it's back to your taking care of us!

  3. Let others do unto you as you have done unto them.

  4. I think of you often. I am glad that you are keeping us informed. I go to Fort Wayne often - have grandchildren there - and I would be glad to help out - pull weeds, go to the store, get ice cream:) You are pretty amazing! Keep us posted.

  5. Please let people help you - they love that. And the great thing is, you won't be helpless permanently. You will get back to being you. Thinking of you heading into surgery, fingers crossed and mazel tov. xxxooo