Thursday, August 19, 2010

Telling Loved Ones: The Hardest Part

When you've been hit by a bus, the last thing you want to do is get behind the wheel of that bus and drive around looking for all of your loved ones.  The first day I was so very emotional that I was terrified to say the diagnosis out loud.  I sent my best friend Lisa a message on Facebook because I knew that if I had to talk to her on the phone I would start crying and might not be able to stop.  Heck, I cried typing the message.

Luckily, while walking Duffy I ran into my friend and neighbor, Lesley.  She had recently been a great cancer buddy for one of her friends and I knew she could handle the news.  It felt very good to talk about it with her.  I realized at that point that I really would feel much better if I could talk about my diagnosis as much as possible.

My first phone call was to my cousin, Jenni (she's the one that came up with the name Lymphomaniac).  Jenni is an amazing, strong, and smart woman.  But when I first called her, I chickened out and hung up the phone.  Moments later I had a text from her wondering if I had butt called her.  Well, I saw that as a sign I really should open up to her.  We've been there for each other through many huge life events and it seemed right that she should be call #1.  After finishing the call I felt much better, she really could make a living as a life coach.

Call #2 was to an old family friend who had battled Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Thanks Arnie for all the practical advice and all the great funny cancer stories.

All the talking was making me feel much better but I knew that I would need a lot of help dealing with the reality of being a cancer patient.  I'm lucky that years ago I underwent some excellent talk therapy with an amazing therapist.  Thank goodness we have unlimited long distance to Canada.  Now I can access her for phone sessions and maybe if I ever figure out all the bells and whistles of my computer we could do Skype therapy.  Just for random or not random viewers let me just really stress my belief in therapy.  If you are depressed, please seek help.  I battled depression for years and talk therapy really changed my life.

You can all probably imagine that telling the kids was making me extremely anxious.  In "Jaws" style, I was thinking "We're going to need a bigger Xanax!"  We had a family celebration dinner planned to celebrate their success in fall sports tryouts.  Both kids made Varsity and we needed to celebrate.  That was Friday night.  When we got home that night, I had my biggest breakdown yet.  I want nothing but the best for my kids and to know that I was going to be the cause of heartache for them breaks my heart.  I had a really good cry, did the it isn't fair pitty party, and wished it was any time of the year but Fall because we have Tennis, Volleyball and Marching Band.  It really was very similar to the "Monk" episode where Adrian is cycling through the stages of grief only maybe not that fast.

August 14, 2010 - Telling the kids was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced.  But as difficult as it was, the relief was almost immediate.  Both kids took it as well as can be expected.  I'm sure it is because they are such smart and strong kids.  I could brag about them from sunrise to sunset and it would all be well deserved.

The next big hurtle would be telling my mom.  Just another inconvenience of living away from family.  Plus, she had a triple bypass several years ago and lives alone.  I sought the advice of my Aunt Jane and my baby brother and we all agreed that Mom's best friend Jackie would be the right person to contact.  Unfortunately, Jackie was out of town for the weekend.  So I took the weekend off from worrying and enjoyed a nice run on Sunday.  My friend Lorrie sent me a text in the afternoon to see if the results were back.  So we had a nice long bad news phone call.  Here's a shout out to nurses everywhere.  I'm just saying everyone needs at least one good friend that is a nurse: the more, the better.  Though our discussion I was able to really process the specifics of my diagnosis and the possible treatment.  It really helped me move closer toward acceptance.

August 16, 2010 - Breakfast with my good friend, Jean.  Telling friends face to face is much easier than by phone, email, text etc.  I think it is because you can see the love in their face and it calms you.  I even enjoyed the breakfast.

I reached Jackie and she headed to mom's house to be with her after my phone call.  This family has always been there for us and Jackie did it again.  We are blessed to have their family in our lives.  

Finally, the telling was done.  Now, I needed to prepare myself for all the tests that I would need to determine the stage the lymphoma.


  1. I agree...the Harris family is wonderful! What a great friendship. The friendship is more than Indy 500 races, an IU Graduation, a Wedding, a Nascar race, an Anderson Graduation, another IU Graduation, another wedding, more Indy races, more Nascar races, another IU Graduation, some of the greatest newspaper articles around, some Hot Damn at those races, another wedding. God has blessed the Dulin Family with a wonderful friendship. Thank you Raider Road Family!

    PS...I should have added a few back surgeries in there as well.

  2. The telling people is always the worst part. You did a great job and thought it all through, knowing who you'd get what reaction from. Now you get to move on to the kicking cancer's butt time.

  3. My sister and I are so lucky to have such wonderful children. Darron, Jennifer, Danell, Jon, and Doug have given us much love through the years.
    We have many great stories about their childhood times together. The teen ones are pretty geat, also. Right girls?