Friday, September 12, 2014

The Selfish Post

I went back and forth on whether or not to write an entry about this, especially since there are much more important things to share. It has been such an incredible summer and all I've been wanting to do is bask in the amazingness of the people who surround this little operation, but lately I've been distracted with another little... situation. I figure honesty is the best policy. I connect with each ITLT post and project in a personal way, this one is no different. Forgive me, as this will hopefully be the only selfish post you see from me.

Context

My mom's sister, Joan Marie McBride, died of breast cancer far too young. I never met her but was given her name, and always felt this was a big responsibility. For the last sixteen years, I was convinced that I too would come to this same early tragic end. (For someone who smiles a lot, I can get pretty dark pretty quickly.) Three times in my life I've taken myself to doctors and oncologists convinced, and three times they've turned me away. I vowed to give up this obsession.

The Short of It 

Two weeks ago, I had some routine physical tests come back abnormal but no one would return my calls. One week ago, on the way to my dad's birthday dinner, I finally connected with my doctor. Thankfully, my mom was also in the car. Hyperplasia. Cervical dysplasia. Pre-cancer. CIN III. ("It's pre-cancer. Or it's cancer, but we need more information. You don't have cancer yet. It's just pre-cancer." Say the C-word one more time... and I'm sorry, what is PRE-cancer?) Best case scenario: my body is already fighting and will need little assistance. Worst case scenario: it's cancer and we start by targeting and freezing sections. 

Based on these preliminary results, there are still many unanswered questions and I have to go back in for a biopsy. I've had all relevant immunizations so they're not sure why or how this happened. I would have to wait two and a half weeks to even be seen, and then wait another week for test results. However, this smart cookie (she said ironically) decided to call and see if there were any last minute cancellations. Don't get me wrong, that was the plan all along because the doc made this sound urgent. So - great - I can go in today.

Flash Forward

It's been a heavy week, so much so that this all sounds trivial when I write it down, but if grief therapy taught me anything, it's that I need to confront feelings head on. So in the midst of remembering 9/11 and honoring suicide awareness and prevention week, I also realized something: I had allotted myself the full anticipated two and a half weeks to deal with this upcoming appointment. Moving it into the next 24 hours was a shock to my system and I found myself hysterical in the middle of rush hour traffic. 

I wasn't crying because I might have cancer; I'm scared because I don't know and there's nothing I can do but wait. It felt like my body had betrayed me. Whether it's a physical reaction or psychosomatic, I have been in an enormous amount of pain this last week as if war is being waged inside me, and I'm scared because I don't know who is going to win.

The Project

I know I don't have a unique story. I've had too many friends go under the knife for too many illnesses. I think the sentiment remains the same though. It's scary and no one really knows what to say. So, if you choose accept, this is the creative act of kindness:
  1. Find a hospital - google one in your hometown, maybe in a place you've heard about on the news, maybe a place you've only read about in books.
  2. Look into whether they have a pediatric, cancer, or other ward that inspires you.
  3. Use your imagination to create a beautiful card(s) for someone who could use a little extra love. Let them know how brave they are, wish them luck, just keeping it light and positive.
    1. Here's how we recommend addressing your card:
      1. Leave the inside of your card blank so that someone close to the recipient can write a personal message. Don't sign your name. Instead include a message to a nurse or clerk describing the purpose of you card and specifically what you want them to do with your card. For example, on a separate paper: "Hello! Please give this card to someone who _____.  I've created it so that you or a close friend can include a personal message..."
      2. Note: Since you don't know who will be receiving your card, try and make a card that could be enjoyed by anyone of any age, gender, or religion.
  4. Snap a quick pic because we'd love to see your awesome work. (#TeamITLT)
  5. Mail your card C/O (care of) the particular ward.

If you have any additional ideas that you'd like to share, please leave a comment in the section below! We love new projects and would be excited to share yours. 

For me, you can put some imaginary fairy dust in an imaginary envelope and send it my way today. 
I just love getting mail... XO