Alan & I have been truly been blessed to have INCREDIBLE family and friends. This list below exists because of them… because of the all the amazing ways in which they helped and supported us. Actually, it has been very difficult for me to narrow it down to just five but here goes…
The Top 5 Most Amazing Things People Can Say or Do…
#5. Really keeping in touch. Sending a card to let someone know you are thinking about him or her is great and very meaningful. Alan asked me to keep every single card he received during his illness. Visiting them really takes it up a notch. Our house became known as “Chez Stoller”. Family & friends from near & far came to visit (some for weeks at a time… others for a day or two… and others for a hour). It didn’t matter how long they stayed or how often they visited. Frankie even came down from Ithaca to be with Alan (and me) during his very first chemo treatment. Why is that people (myself included) wait till there is an illness to spend time with someone they care about? ‘Cause life sometimes gets in the way… that sucks!
#4. Bringing over some meals. Even if someone says “no thanks”, bring dinner or lunch over anyways. (Regular sizes portions please… too much of a good thing is well, just too much.) At first I resisted having friends bring us meals. I wanted life to be as normal as possible for my family and let’s face it, people dropping off meals everyday is not normal. Plus Alan was a strict cancer-killing diet. Well, two of my closest friends ignored me (as they often times do 🙂 ) and literally just started bringing “Alan-friendly” dinners over every Wednesday. Another dear friend (who also ignores me often) would show up at our house or at the hospital or at a doctor’s appointment with Panera (she prefers to order dinner rather than cook it). It was a tremendous help. Eventually I started accepting other friends’ gracious offers to help with meals… but only twice a week.
#3. Appointing someone to manage the medical bills ’cause boy will they start racking up. We were so lucky that Alan’s sister was able to help us. Battling cancer is exhausting. Battling insurance companies is down right brutal. Sue negotiated payments with doctors (yes you can negotiate this), managed drug appeals (just because an insurance says they won’t cover something, doesn’t mean that they won’t), and filed for disability (cancer patients who are unable to work because of their condition are eligible to collect Social Security). And if there was an instance where we forgot to give authorization for Sue to speak to an agency, she just pretended she was me and got the job done.
#2. Shaving your head in solidarity. We knew that Alan was going to lose his hair with chemo so we decided to take the bull by horns and shave it off. (I told Alan that it’s a good thing I love bald men.) Much to Alan’s surprise, two of his BFFs were waiting for us at the barbershop. All 3 got their heads shaved together. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about this even now. I promise that if G-d forbid a close friend is diagnosed with cancer, I will absolutely shave my head in solidarity… and then I’m going to get a fabulous long haired, auburn wig. Alan would have loved that!
#1. And the all-time most amazing thing that someone can say or do is to ALWAYS remain positive and hopeful no matter what. One of my very favorite doctors said, “As long as there is life, there is hope.” No matter how bad things got, our friends and family remained hopeful that things would turn around. We all believed that this story would have a happy ending. (And if a few of them had any doubts, they never shared those doubts with us and I thank them for that.) Hope and the love and support of our family and friends is what got us through last year. I can’t even imagine how much worse that horrific year would have been with out this.
For more information about support services and other resources check out our Cancer Support Services page.
Dearest Friends & Family, Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! I love each & every one of you! xo, Robyn