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Some really great books that don’t exist

September 7, 2012

Now that I know what is in store for me for the next year, I have been thinking about what I can do between now and Monday to prepare myself. I have gone well beyond the googling of side effects and because of the resources that are at my fingertips (I always assumed having a lifetime of access to the Vanderbilt Medical Library was a good thing), I not only know what is in store but also at what percentage most of these wonderful side effects occur. The good news is this: there is a less than 25% chance that I will come through having experienced no side effects whatsoever. There is a chance, anyway. I try not to think about the 33% chance that put me in the interferon boat in the first place.

I am nothing if not a reader and even less of nothing if not a planner. I started looking for the subjective data and “lived experience” literature that was going to help me survive this and much to my chagrin, I cannot find “How to Succeed in Chemo Without Really Trying” or “Chemo Survival for Dummies”. I could really use either one. Or both. If you can find them, please, let me know where to look.

After I failed at my attempts to find the Cancer, Rough Guide, I went on over to my google reader to see what was cooking. Literally. Almost all of my reader is cooking blogs. What I found was a very honest post from a woman I have been following for a while now at Momastery. She was being transparent about her own recovery process and she mentioned “receiving mode”.

I never really comment on blogs that are not authored by actual friends of mine and the occasional Pioneer Woman contest but I was compelled to email her and share my own recent experience of “receiving mode”.

This morning I thought it might be “honest” to share it here as well:


I started following you when I was on maternity leave with my first baby. A friend had linked something on Facebook, I read it, then I read your entire blog from start to finish. I would have read it in one sitting but there was a baby to feed.

I know you hear this all the time, but you resonate with me. As a woman, as a mother, as a human being that wants to be a responsible adult.

I am writing you today because I felt the need to reinforce the difficulty of “receiving mode”.

I am type A, I am bossy, I am always in charge and I am fiercely independent. I am good at it. I am so good at it that it is what I get paid to do and I really enjoy it.

In April, one day after my 36th birthday, I got the word that I had cancer. The kind that comes with a very long course of treatment and the kind that comes with a 50% recurrence rate. The kind that comes with a 75% five year mortality rate. Needless to say our world turned upside down in a very short time.

It took four surgeries, two hospitalizations and a raging infection for me to allow myself into receiving mode. On the outside looking in, it seems easy. From the Giving side, it is the natural order of things. You give. You give because you love, because you support, because you want to make the receiver’s way just a little bit easier, you want to bear a little bit of that burden.

No one really talks about how hard receiving mode is. It is vulnerable, it is dependent, it is needy, it is (for me) disgustingly helpless. It is foreign. It is not as easy as just letting someone do something nice for you or your kids or your family. It is offering yourself up as not enough, it is allowing people who otherwise wouldn’t to see your soft underbelly.

For me, it only came out of absolute necessity when I could no longer manage to just eek it out. I have to practice it constantly. I still cringe almost every time someone brings supper to my family or shows up to play with my kids and let me rest. As easy as it is for me to give, that is how hard it is for me to receive.

I say all of that to say this–don’t undervalue the place you have come to. The humility to acknowledge that you are not enough is not nothing. The brokenness that you have to reach to really let others minister to your needs and let their giving be medicinal and not filled with self loathing takes practice. And time. And mindfulness.

You are allowed. Cut yourself some slack. It is only when you really are able to receive that you can start to heal.

On Monday I start a year of infusion therapy. I will practice the act of receiving hundreds of times over the next year and, hopefully, it will get easier and I will get better at it. Or either of those two.

I pray the same for you.

God is God or nothing.


This is what I will do to prepare!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Michelle permalink
    September 7, 2012 4:41 pm

    Thank you.

  2. Tonya Watson permalink
    September 7, 2012 6:08 pm

    Remembering you in prayer and enjoying your blog so much. Love you!!

  3. Jan permalink
    September 9, 2012 5:31 am

    Mareeka…….you are an amazing woman!!!! You have such a flair for writing. I agree with one of your friends who said your book is going to be great!!!! Love you. Praying.

  4. September 10, 2012 7:30 pm

    When my best friend, Ann, was diagnosed with breast cancer, I bought her “Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips” by Kris Carr (with a foreward by Sheryl Crow). I had read about the book and albeit a tad unorthadox, was trying to discover something that would help Ann through the strange and foreign land of cancer and treatment. (well, that and her ‘big girl panties’ that I bought her to “put on your big girl panties and deal with it”–she wore them every day she had chemo. Not that I recommend that for you; she didn’t have to go every day, and 365 days of wearing the same panties could be bad). Ann told me that this book was a lifesaver for her; it discussed topics that you didn’t even know to ask; gave helpful tips and coping strategies and guided her through the landmines. Might be worth checking out:
    Ann went through a year of hell, but is cancer-free 5 years and doing great! Love you; hang in there and keep shaking!

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