It's only been two weeks...

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Tomorrow I get the results of my PET scan and find out my treatment plan. And I'm freaking out because whatever the doctor says tomorrow is going to affect my life for at least the next year. And then people keep finding out and calling and making me promise to keep them updated. And I appreciate their concern and everything but some of these people I haven't talked to in a while. I'm overwhelmed enough as it is and I feel like I'm starting to be stretched a little too thin. I feel obligated to tell EVERYONE whats going on even though I don't really want anyone to know yet. I have a hard time standing up for myself and voicing what I want and just UGH... does anyone else feel the need to not talk to anyone? I still haven't really wrapped my head around whats going on.

Comments

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  • Right now, the only obligation you should have is to yourself. Don't feel bad for just saying to someone, "Right now, things are kinda crazy and I need some time to process what's going on. Can we catch up later when I get things sorted out?" Also, is there someone close to you that you can kind of designate as your "spokesperson" to other people? For example, my mom fielded all the calls from people at our church, and everybody from a school club was kept updated by one person whom I would email every couple of weeks. (Of course, not EVERY detail needs to be shared, and only the ones you want to share.)

    Also, a weird benefit of this terrible diagnosis is you now have a stack of excuses at your disposal. Don't wanna talk to someone? "I'm feeling pretty tired right now, can I call you back later?" Don't want to go to a party where you know you'll be bombarded with questions? "My doctor says I should avoid crowds while my immune system is recovering." Use them! Just remember not to isolate yourself completely. Cancer treatment can feel like an incredibly lonely journey sometimes, but a supportive network of friends and family make it a lot easier.

    Wishing you all the best!
  • All that outpouring of support right now will dwindle rapidly and show you who REALLY cares. Fact is, it is NOT your responsibility to update anyone. Your job is to get better, not to spend time telling everyone about every detail. Some folks find it helpful to blog about it, and that can help folks stay informed. I didn't start writing a blog until well after my treatment, however. I frankly didn't feel like writing at the time. If folks really want to know how things are going, they'll ask you. If they want to help, they will help. I had a friend who just showed up and mowed my lawn while I was away in the hospital (3 hours away, and I'd be gone for a week at a time). He never asked. He never told anyone he was doing it. He just showed up and did it. For the longest time, I had no idea who was mowing my lawn. I was talking to one of my neighbors one day, who described the phantom-mower to me. That's the only way I found out.

    As for how the treatment will go, just take it one step at a time. It's a lot to process. Try not to process it all at once. You'll fry your brain doing that. Treatments have a tendency to do that, anyway. Definitely use those new excuses mixtape mentioned to get some space. Make sure everyone works on your schedule, not the other way around.
  • Besides all of the awesome awesome advice above, if you do decide to designate a 'spokesperson' for everyone to bother instead (haha), a good site to use may be CaringBridge (http://www.caringbridge.org/). That way, someone can update about you (or you can when you feel up to it) and people can get updates by email or by checking the site. I've heard a lot of good things about it, it seems to keep all the fuss in one place.
  • I think you are in the worst period of the whole ordeal right now. Getting the news is hard enough, having to deal with everyone else just exacerbates things.
    I think what they said above is true: whether you decide to keep everyone updated or not, this time is about you and doing what you need to do to get through it.
    I definitely had friends and family from years past come out of the woodwork when they heard about my cancer. It can be a little embarrassing; I am not a big fan of being the center of attention.