Open your door to your village

A neighbour met me on the sidewalk and shared that her spouse has bone cancer and will be having surgery. My first thought was, “Rally the neighbourhood. Let’s pitch in with food and fun ways to pass the time, like scratch tickets (which I always lose!).” She was whispering the news in a hushed voice and said that she wasn’t supposed to tell me because we have enough on our plate. Their family was strong and they would face it head on. All I could think of was what terrible news to bare alone.

Cancer is not meant to be dealt with by ourselves, or even in our families of three. It affects people differently. But a support group, however it looks, is a must for cancer patients and their caregivers.

When you find out you have cancer, all of these truly amazing people come out of the woodwork to help. Some, who you thought were truly amazing, shy to the backdrop, never to reveal their faces again. But still others. The neighbours. The acquaintances. The hockey coach. They rise up and make life a little easier. As a collective, it actually makes a significant impact.

I asked my neighbour what she is doing to take care of herself. A spouse going through surgery and a parent with ongoing health issues. She looked at me blankly and said that all her efforts were going to the boys.

Who will take care of her? Who will support her?

She thought it was sweet that I was concerned about her wellbeing but we often forget about the caregivers. They need support too.

As I couldn’t put a neighbourhood care package together for the family, without telling her secret, I could certainly do something sweet for her. She loves wearing makeup so I ordered some nice beauty products and told her in the card, “Indulge. You’re worth it.” I put it together with a gift card for a local coffee shop.

Throughout this cancer experience, friends and loved ones have cooked us dinner, plowed our driveway, watched Austin, bought gift cards, drove me to appointments, sent care packages, rubbed my back, made me laugh, and stuck cheerios to their forehead.

All of which has made having cancer a little less lonely. A little less scary.

You feel this love from people you know and even those you don’t. It truly does take a village. All you have to do is open your door.

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