Thursday, April 14, 2016

Support Group!

     Last night, the kids and I made it to our first support group meeting at Cancer Support Community in Old Town Pasadena. We had planned on eating a quick supper before hand, as the meetings start at 6, but my staff meeting went long, so I had to rush to get the kids. We made a quick stop at home so Emiko and Hideo could get a snack to tide them over til dinnertime.
     We got to the meeting about 10 minutes before it started, since I had to turn in the paperwork to enroll the kids in the Children's Corner.  Laura, the director, met us and took the paperwork and led us to the kids' room. There was another nine year old girl there, so Emiko was thrilled about that. Ryan, who is a marriage and family therapist grad student, leads the kids' program. He's a lot of fun and Emiko and Hideo loved their first group. So that is a relief!
     After dropping off the kids, I walked down the hall to my group. The leader is a lung cancer survivor and psychotherapist. He's very warm and engaging and he made me feel at ease right away. I apologized that I couldn't come last week, and he said it was no problem. He had the group members introduce themselves to me and describe their cancer, and then I introduced myself.
     There were two other men in the room, and three other women. One man was much older, and the other man was super young -- in his early 20s. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 20 and it's come back.
     One woman has metastatic breast cancer. Her cancer recurred as tumors in her brain. She was the chattiest of the group, but everyone was open and honest and you could tell that they really appreciated each other. One man just started last week, so he said he was much more comfortable talking this week.
     Even though I'm the least sick of the group, it was still great to be there. My friends and family have been incredibly supportive, but I don't think anyone can really understand what a cancer diagnosis is like unless she or he experiences one. I felt like I could just exhale and listen and talk.
     I'm so glad I went -- I had been kind of chickening out for awhile.
     When I picked up the kids from their room, they were so happy and had had so much fun, and were excited to come back next Wednesday. We got to the car, and they told me all about their session, which involved talking about cancer a bit, and then playing games. We were starving, as it was after 7:40 and we hadn't had dinner (and I didn't have a snack!). So we went to Jersey Mike's to get a sandwich. I told the kids we would make Wednesday our special support night, and that next week we would be able to eat dinner before the meeting, as there is no staff meeting next Wednesday. On staff meeting days, I'm going to have to make sure to pack snacks!
     One of my 8th graders has started at Relay for Life team for the Griffith Park Relay for Life that is being held on May 21. I think that is awesome. I'm going to join the Immaculate Heart team and Emiko and Hideo are going to join, too. I guess it'll be my first event as a "survivor." I still don't think I am a survivor yet -- I think I still count as a patient. I guess having "cancer patient" on the back of a t-shirt would be weird?
     This week has been good, work-wise. I am still pretty irritable -- I was really crabby with my first period class this morning. I had given a reading quiz, and the girls sometimes love to complain about how unfair these quizzes are, and I was not feeling like hearing it today. I do need to work on taking deep breaths when I get frazzled -- I can start to feel when the tamoxifen-rage flares up. I think some mindful meditation and deep breaths will help. And I think I needed more caffeine today.
     Next week my Panda Pacers want to start walking up to the Observatory again -- did I already tell you that? I told the girls we would give it a try, and to please be patient with me. I decided to just do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the rest of the year -- I think I probably need Mondays off! I don't know if I can make it all the way to the top at this point -- it's a steep three mile round trip. But we'll see -- it'll get me out there, anyway. I do need to start doing more physical activity. I've been doing a little yoga, but I need to do more. It's hard to be motivated when I'm so worn out at the end of the day, but I know that ultimately exercise will make me feel better and will help with my endurance.
     My right boobette is healing -- I noticed last night that the wound is definitely smaller. It's still an open wound, but progress is being made. I see Dr. Klausmeyer on the 26th. Surely by then it'll look markedly better. That would be awesome.
      Progress. I have to keep being patient. I'm making progress.

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