The Many Rants, Raves, and Rambles of Catherine
"Can I do anything to help?" Friendship and chronic illness.
"So I was thinking that next Wednesday we'll meet for lunch, that works for you right?"
All the sudden a rush of thoughts cross my mind... Okay, infusions Thursday, blood work Monday. Okay so Wednesday is free... But I don't even know if I'll feel okay then.
I respond "That SHOULD work. I'll have to let you know the morning of because I have no idea how I'll feel that day."
If you know anything about me, I'm the biggest planner/worrier on the face of the planet. I have my life planned and scheduled to a T. If we're meeting for lunch at 12, best believe that I'm there at 11:45 at the latest, and that's with me planning on being "late." My friends in high school used to plan parties, everyone else would be told 7, I would be told 7:30, and we would all end up there at 7:15.
So when I first started getting sick I would try to push through the exhaustion and the sickness, because I had plans, and plans in my brain were always concrete. You don't bail on people, ever. Especially the morning of the plans. That was not who I am/was.
I started my cancer medication and soon enough I was vomiting all morning every day. There was no humanly possible way to socialize during these times, and so I began having to cancel plans on my friends,.
If you have a friend that's sick and they have to cancel on you, please understand that we HATE cancelling plans. Hate it with all our heart. All we want is to be "normal." I wish that I could commit to an event a week away and be able to to give you a definite RSVP that I can make it. But truth is, I never know what the day may be like for me. Some days, I feel decent (decent is about the best I get these days) and I can get out of my house for 4-5 hours and not be completely exhausted. There's other days where getting out of bed, showering, and making myself something to eat is all I have energy for.
Be patient with us cancer kids please, and anyone with a chronic illness. I understand the frustration and disappointment that comes with having plans cancelled, but I promise that I feel 10x as terrible for not being able to control my health and come through for you. I beat myself up and I feel like a terrible friend. Being sick is incredibly isolating on its own but not being able to make plans a lot of the time is even harder.
A lot of people have asked me how to be a friend during my battle... I know we might not be able to spend a ton of time in person, and I'm sorry. I can't travel much, and if I do, it's typically to see my family and make some memories with them. So what can you do? Texts, facetime, skype, calls are huge. I can't promise that I'll always remember to respond or answer, but the mere action of these gestures means so much. Knowing that someone is reaching out to you and trying to be there for you means a lot. Let me know when you're in town, last minute plans tend to work better for me as I can know how I feel just that moment.
Being sick is hard, and its even harder on friendships. Believe me, we know it's hard. But at this time friendships and supports are critical and can make all the difference in how we make it through this battle. Be there to listen, be there to love, but please be patient. Don't give up on us.