Book Club: Planet Cancer, Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Welcome to the comments and discussion of Chapter 6: People of the book, Planet Cancer!  Catch up on Chapter 1: DiagnosisChapter 2: Getting Your C-Legs, Chapter 3: Treatment, Chapter 4: Side Effects, and Chapter 5: Staying Sane!

Let’s get started!  Chapter 6!

Carly:

People. Of all the chapters thus far, this one was by far the most emotional for me (grab the tissues). It brought back so many memories, both good (remembering all your loved ones who helped you) & the bad (ya know, the person who tells you everything happens for a reason).

A comment that stuck out early to me in this chapter was from Haley, shown below.

I always knew I had good parents, but I learned that in fact I have great parents. For me, nothing was harder than to watch my parents. They had the cancer as much as I did and wished they could take my place.

This is SO TRUE. True for my parents and siblings. That was certainly one of the worst parts of the whole process – watching how scared or nervous they all were. It’s funny what you do and don’t remember. But that feeling — looking at their faces when were waiting on the hard answers – that stays with you.

I think this chapter is important because for some, the anxiety of people (what they’ll say, how they’ll act around you or behind your back, etc.) is just as stressful as the big parts of the C process. Because really, people play such a big role and knowing what to expect and how to handle difference situations is really helpful. Like when to tell people to leave you alone, stop looking at you with sad eyes, and say thank you.

My people? They are so loved & appreciated. In fact, I’m going to tell them all that now. I encourage you to do the same.

Cheryl:

“Be the arbiter of your own time and be unrelenting. People will understand. And if they don’t, hey, you’ve got cancer.”

This chapter covers all the people that make up your support system – from your inner circle to people you barely know. When you make your cancer diagnosis known, it can surprising to see how many people will offer their assistance, drop off meals, watch your kids, etc. I think you realize who your true friends (and family) are when you are dealing with cancer; they are the ones who step forward and really provide you with the support that you need. You might be surprised as to who is there for you and who decides to drop off of “Planet Cancer.” This chapter didn’t touch too much on the friends who distance themselves from you during cancer, but it’s something I’ve seen myself and heard from my “PWCs” (people with cancer). It also gives you permission to pull the “C” card if you need it; it’s okay to say no and it’s okay to take a break from family and friends if you need it!

The section on how to talk to your children about cancer really hit home with me. When I was diagnosed my children were ages 9, 5, 4, and 8 months. When we told them about my cancer diagnosis and upcoming surgery/treatment, we made sure to emphasize that it wasn’t anyone’s fault that I had cancer and that it was not contagious. Even after saying that I remember just a few weeks later driving in the car and my 5 year asking me out of the blue “Mommy…will I get cancer too?” My heart broke for her; my heart broke for all of my children and I felt so guilty for what I was putting them through…even though I certainly hadn’t made the decision to bring cancer into our lives, I still felt guilty.

This chapter also covers dating after a cancer diagnosis and how/when to let a prospective partner know about your health. There’s a section written by caregivers that will help the people who are helping you. It was interesting and heart-warming to read about cancer from a caregiver’s perspective. One quote that brought tears to my eyes was from a caregiver who was helping her sister with cancer – “I understood, just a little, what my place in this was. Or maybe I didn’t understand it so much as feel it somewhere that I knew counted….It seems that those who get cancer are the only ones who can handle it. They’re going through it, not you. You’re going through something different. You watch the great ones shine; you get to be near them. Like light exposed to a prism, you are transformed.”

Thanks for joining us for our first book club of Planet Cancer! To see what you’ve missed, check out Chapter 1: Diagnosis, Chapter 2: Getting Your C-Legs, Chapter 3: Treatment, Chapter 4: Side Effects, Chapter 5: Staying Sane.  Join in on Tuesday, September 8th for Chapter 7: What Now?.

If you’re just joining us, here are some logistics:

We will talk about a chapter each Monday until the book is done.  Then, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  We’ll also have a great “meet the author” post coming up!  Join in, in the comments every week!  Also, there will probably be spoilers.  Read along with us!

How are you enjoying our young adult cancer book club?