This is the second post in a series by Megan Santa Croce, who at the age of 24 is battling cancer for the second time. Read the first post.
Hello again everyone! Last time we talked I discussed what it means to have “ovarian” cancer, side effects, and the wonders of chemo treatments. Today, I wanted to share how important support is during all this time.
I encourage everyone to remember that people want to help you.
By support, I don’t mean just having people there for you during treatment. I mean help when you are struggling and you think that you are alone. Help when you think you can’t handle it and that it’s too much. Help when you think that the world is ending. Please, I encourage everyone to remember that people want to help you. Don’t give up on yourself, and rely on the organizations and family that you have.
Relying on Community
My first treatment, I didn’t do that. At 15, you don’t want to be told what to do, so I went through my treatments not really looking for any outside help for me or my family. Instead, help found us.
We were so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be blessed with an amazing community.
The entire community came together and helped in any way they could. A chicken barbeque was thrown, tee shirts were made, a fundraiser was thrown, all without us asking. At the barbeque, the line to get chicken was so long that it was blocking highways, some said a two hour wait. We were so incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to be blessed with an amazing community who brought tears of joy to our eyes everyday.
However, the second time around, me and my family decided we needed to try to keep this diagnosis a bit more low key, and try to get outside help from some organizations instead of just help from friends and neighbors.
Cancer Support Organizations
First and foremost, The American Cancer Society is a great reference to those who need help. They provide rides to and from treatment, free wigs, even a free makeup session for women who don’t feel beautiful during treatment. More than that, they can help you find the correct healthcare if you are diagnosed and don’t have any. They also offer support groups for those who are struggling. They even have outreach groups that my siblings could attend that consist of only those who are seeing someone go through it, no actual patients allowed. I will say I haven’t used much of them yet, but I have my makeup class scheduled, and my wig appointment all set up. Thinking of becoming a redhead, there’s a first time for everything!
Something I can no longer take advantage of, but could’ve my first treatment, is a Wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This amazing nonprofit gives children an opportunity to do something that they wouldn’t ever do otherwise in their lifetime. For youth, this is an amazing offer and brings them an abundance of hope and joy. I personally did not use my wish, I felt as if I had what I needed, but there are so many whose lives are changed through this organization. A classmate of mine, who is no longer with us, got an in-ground pool in his home. Another friend, Sean, used his to go to Disney!
This year, during my treatment, I received a Compassion that Compels care package from a friend. She found this organization on Pinterest! Compassion that Compels is a Christian organization that makes care bags for patients. In the bag is a journal, a prayer reflection book, a coffee travel mug, tea, mints, a blanket, pens, and a prayer card with the name of someone in the organization who has chosen to pray for you. Although I know this sort of organization wouldn’t be as applicable to everyone who is not Christian, it just goes to show what type or organizations you can find out there, even just on Pinterest.
Don't forget, your local community wants to help, too!
Now, all of these organizations are all big, bold, and nationwide! But don’t forget, your local community wants to help too! I have received amazing local help not only in my first, but my second treatment as well!
The local groups even helped me during my first treatment. I received help from a local organization called A Room to Heal, which redid my entire bedroom to assure a calming and peaceful environment. A Room to Heal brought us an amazing room that I haven’t changed to this day. Even on the night that I wasn’t allowed to be in my room, because of the changes, they bought me tickets to see my favorite musical, In the Heights. They even got me an autographed picture of Kristin Chenoweth, who is my all-time most favorite actress to ever step on the Broadway Stage!
In my second treatment, or right now as I like to call it, my mother’s best friend organized a food drive on LotsaHelpingHands.com, where there is a calendar to sign up for days to bring dinner to us on my mom’s workdays. This has helped us so much, and your community gets to feel that they are involved in your treatment and they have the opportunity to show that they care.
In September, I am taking advantage of a retreat house my mother found, called Mary’s Place by the Sea. This is a local nonprofit retreat in New Jersey for female cancer patients. The retreat offers massages, Reiki treatments, yoga, meditation, prayer guidance, nutritional health, anything that a cancer patient needs to relax for a few days. I am so excited to go and check it out-and it’s FREE!
These few organizations are only a small fraction of what’s out there for cancer patients. Whatever service you need or you are looking for, Google it and see what’s out there. Reach out to your community and see if anyone can help. I will tell you one thing- you are not alone and you have so many people on your side. So embrace your diagnosis and take advantage of these amazing groups and services because they are there for you and, in the words of L’Oreal – you’re worth it!