Second Rounder

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’m 56 and have just been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second
time. The first time I did a lumpectomy. Now I am planning to have a
double mastectomy followed by chemo and radiation. For the last
fifteen years my whole identity has been wrapped up in being a cancer
survivor. Of the fifteen people in my support group from the 90’s I am
only one of three still walking around. I have been looked up to in the
community as a success story, have given talks about cancer at the
synagogue, and have prided myself on how healthy I am and live. Now
it feels like my whole world is crashing down. Obviously I am most
upset about the cancer, but it also calls up a lot of what I thought
about the rest of my life, from work to my savings account. Also, I am
single and know I’m going to need a lot of help to get through this.

Second Rounder

Dear Second Rounder:

Yes your identity is going to be different. But you are still you, just
with a medical problem. This is not going to be a quick process. Round
two will have lots of stages and each of them will require a lot of help.
Find two friends to serve as your care team coordinators. Give them
the names of any people you think would be willing to help you with
everything from bringing meals to schlepping you to medical
appointments. At places like they will be able to
sign up chore. Think about everyone from folks at your synagogue to
co-workers and book club or gym friends. Also ask neighbors if they
would be on call for physical help in case you slip or fall.

Draft an email to send everyone that says something like this: After
fifteen years, my worst fear has happened: cancer has reentered my
life. If you’re reading this it’s because I trust you and am inviting you
to be my helper in the process of ejecting it from the rest of my life. If
you’re willing to bring me the occasional dinner, help me with house or
yard chores, or even come with me to chemo/radiation appointments,
please go to [website] and sign up. You’ll get emails alerting you when
I need help. I’ll be very appreciative for anything you can do, no
matter how small. I plan on making it through this and living a happy
and healthy long time. I look forward to celebrating with you on the
other side. Thanks!