Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer. My doctor educated me
about all the alternatives and, because I never ever ever want to go
through this again I have chosen to have a double mastectomy. My
decision is also confirmed and supported by the second consult. I know
I am looking at a long recovery, especially because there will be
chemo and/or radiation on the other side of surgery. I’m divorced,
without children or close family nearly, but I do have a robust network
of friends and acquaintances, from everywhere from synagogue to
(don’t laugh) bowling league. Though I am self-reliant, I know I will
need help. How can I ask people to do for me?
Gotta Get Ready
Dear Gotta Get Ready:
Now’s your chance to learn about improving your relationships with
people in your wider circle. Also to practice humiltiy and learn how to
let others do for you. Your broader community will soon become part
of your local extended family, by choice and necessity. If you chose to
hire a nursing aide, you would end up spending gazillions more (a
rough cost estimate) and you would also miss a great chance to get
closer to folks. It may feel hard to go through a truly traumatic event
with those who’re now only acquaintances. But when you ask for help,
with a meal, or a ride to doctor’s appointment, or even to come help
do your laundry, I’ll be shocked if they don’t step up and say Yes.
Virtually everyone you know has a friend or relative in a similar
situation far away. It’s a collective “pay it forward” for us all.
You need your best friend to act as stage manager for you. She might
be happy with a pen and a clipboard, but in the last several years
several good websites have evolved to help care teams share
information and chores. They’re also a way for you to post medical
updates for your fiends without having to repeat the same news (good
or bad) over and over. Have her investigate the web to choose one.
Your synagogue may have a system to help also. Call and ask whom
you should speak to. You should probably talk to folks directly and
then say she will coordinate while you focus on getting ready for
surgery and then well. After you are fully recovered, throw a great
party for everyone who helped. They’ll feel good and so will you. Last,
pray for healing and make the process as easy on yourself as you can.
It’s good for you to let others do for you.