A while ago I signed up to volunteer as one of Imerman's Angels, a 1-on-1 support program that connects cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers. Within days they left a message on my phone welcoming me to the program. That was months ago. I completely forgot about it until I saw a tweet by founder Jonny Imerman, and instantly tweeted an apology. His reply stopped me in my tracks. Here it is:
Jamie SO GLAD you are well! don't worry about a thing :) just keep well
#1 ! just call the office back & WELCOME on board as an angel! THX:)
He assumed I dropped out because of a recurrence!
Of course that is what he thought. That is what we always think once we have danced with cancer. The same thing happened when I absentmindedly tweeted and moaned about the kryptonite I had to drink for a CT scan. Friends contacted me in a panic, fearing the worst.
This reminds me that cancer patients aren’t the only people suffering when we are sick, and we aren’t the only ones who need to move beyond cancer. As miserable as the sickness can be, I think it is often tougher on those who must watch helplessly while we suffer. And just as patients need to reclaim or remake our lives without cancer defining us, so do the dear ones who helped us through it.
In the future I will be more careful about mentioning aches and pains, remembering that I am not the only one who thinks, “What if it is cancer?”
And I will call Imerman's Angels today.