Thursday, August 21, 2014

MY FEET IN THE SAND: Help not Hinder...

This journey of Breast Cancer has imparted so many wisdom-filled lessons.  I'm still attempting to catch them all.  Some of which must be visited time and time again, in different ways.  Other lessons have been dealt the exact same way just a different day.

A big lesson I've learned and continue to see demonstrated is that most of what I experience in terms of learning is not specific to Cancer but can be applied to every day life.  One of those lessons is HELP.

I never had to seek more help in more ways in my short life, than I have had to do while battling Cancer.  There have been times when I've needed financial help, help to dress myself, to bathe, even to walk.  There have been times when I've had to fight my way out of help, to push myself to heal.

There are times when help is not really help, but a hindrance.  That's when one is helping, not in the way the helpee wants or needs to helped, but in the way the helper believes the helpee should want or need to be helped.

I have a friend who's since discovered that he has Celiac disease.  His wife has taken to making sure they lead a gluten-free life.  Right after chemo and for up to two weeks, I've been so debilitated that I am unable to cook for myself.  So family and friends have taken turns making sure I have plenty to eat. 

By way of my friend, his wife sent over enough food for several dinners, EVERYTHING, gluten-free.  Gluten-free bread, crackers, cheese, beverages, snack bars amongst other things.  Finally he pulled out the home-made gluten free Mac and Cheese.  Hold the phone!  Everybody who knows anything about me and cooking, knows that I am a Mac and Cheese queen.  Note: I didn't say the mac and cheese queen, that title goes to my mother.  And if I'm going to eat mac and cheese, lasagna or any other decadent food in that vein, spare me the fat free, reduced fat, no fat ingredients.  "If Ima do it, I want the real deal..."  Most importantly, gluten-free mac and cheese is not a safe bet with me.

Toni's famous 7 cheese, cheese and macaroni

I tasted the mac and cheese out of obligation, but it sat in the fridge until it turned the color of the bowl... green.  I never brought the mac and cheese up because I didn't want to hurt his or his wife's feelings.  After all I should be grateful for the effort, right?  Right.  However, you and your family are gluten-free.  My family is not.  So bringing me a gluten-free product because you now believe the world should be gluten-free is not helping me.  I didn't eat it, it cluttered up space and most of the food went to waste because after tasting it I didn't like it.  Now, if I had enjoyed the gluten-free I wouldn't have included this tidbit as an example.

A dear friend had to experience a biopsy recently.  All Glory Be to God, her tumor is benign!  I asked if she wanted me to accompany her.  She answered yes.  While in the car, I did not impart my experience, for my experience was painful and debilitating.  While in the car, I said, I'm going to hold your hand.... Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, she stopped me right there.  "Toni I don't want any mushy, soppy, soapy hand holding...."  She exclaimed.  I said, "I receive that." 

After the nurse explained what was to take place during the procedure, my friend looked at me and asked me to hold her hand.  I held her foot--I didn't want to get in the way--and sang as another friend did for me.  Her biopsy progressed without a hitch and with no pain.  My point: glad I didn't share info that would have tainted her experience and I heard her loud and clear, help me the way I want to be helped, not the way you think I should be helped. 

What I'm learning is: when asking to help someone the next best question is,   how can I best help or serve you?  And if someone asks me for help, I'm learning to listen and give them what they've asked for, not what I believe they should ask for.  If I think they want or need more, I'm learning to ask, "... Are you sure... because..."

I'm learning to take this extra step because I want to help, not hinder...

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