As mentioned in the previous blog you are the number one person on your healthcare team. Now we talk about family, friends and the community, which play just as an important role in the support you receive.
When I was going through my treatments, which were very aggressive and required me to stay in the hospital for two nights and three days my family and friends were integral in helping in a number of ways.
First my family I don't think throughout the entire year of my treatment not including my surgery and radiation that one member of my family didn't fly in to spend two weeks at a time with me. It is very important that you have the support of your family. That support meant doing the shopping, cleaning and laundry and most of all just being there for company. My family; mom, dad, Ben, Jenny and Chris spent countless hours, days and months just listening to how I was feeling, getting me what I needed; food or medications, picking me up when I was down. They made sure that I stayed strong and positive both mentally and physically. This was a full time job. I knew that I didn't want to die. I had to be here for my son Joseph. I told myself over and over again "Joseph can't live without his dad". My brother and his wife moved their family to Minnesota to be with me. That was amazing! I know that I haven't thanked them enough for the huge sacrifice they made to be with me. Thank you Chris and Megan!
Since having just moved to a brand new city the only people I knew before I was rushed to the hospital was the hotel staff where I was staying. We are all still friends to this day. They were very supportive to my family and friends when they came to visit always making sure that they had everything they needed.Then there are my very good friends from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Jeff and Nicole. They drove up prior to surgery to be with me and my family and also a number of times after to help out as well. You really know who your true friends are when something like this happens that's for sure.
There was a lot going through my mind all the time. I have come up with a quote that I believe is what patients need to realize and understand. It goes like this.
"Staying positive can be hard at times, but you have to focus on what you believe your outcome will be. I am going to kick cancer's butt! Stay strong. get rest when you need it and call on your friends for support. To admit that you need help is not a sign of weakness. You are not a statistic! You should be treated as a patient and not as a diagnosis".
As a patient the most important thing you need to remember is that you have to ask for help and support, you are not being a bother to people. They can so "no". Unlike other types of cancer or illnesses you may like fine on the outside when you feel link crap on the inside. People can't see that so you need to speak up.