I am a public person.
I tell people stuff. Lots of stuff, and even a bunch of stuff that might be pretty personal.
I find it helpful to tell my stories out loud. I know that this isn't everyone's way of dealing with serious matters like loss and sickness, but in my experience it is the only way to go. I have the ability to be a big mouth girl and with that ability I find connections with others and it makes me feel less alone.
I found out about my diagnosis at 5 pm on Friday. By 5:30, I had a small army of friends and family texting, calling and sending messages any way they could. By 6:00 I was reassured by many that I would be taken care of. That I would not be alone. That my family would be held up by my community during these difficult times.
The next morning we decided to go to our favourite spot at the Hamilton Farmer's Market, pokeh. We saw friends, ate yummy healthy food and picked up groceries from local farmers.
As we drove towards the house, my phone dinged. One of my dearest friends, Dov had driven in from Toronto and was at the house waiting for me. I was excited to see him and as we pulled up saw that he had brought me a whole bunch of balloons. I believe there was 18 teal and purple balloons on my front porch. Balloons! For my cancer diagnosis. How amazing! I thought he had delivered them. Nope, he said he wish he had. Turns out that was the brilliant work of Roisin and Ted.
An hour later Margaret dropped of rhubarb cake.
And later that afternoon, Gary and Beth came by with flowers and an invite to dinner. Maybe even a bit of a demand to come for dinner. A gentle demand, of course, and one that I was so grateful for.
As I went upstairs to change I was overcome with tears. It wasn't a sadness per se, but more of an overwhelm of kindness and a deep deep gratitude. Some of the people who showed up I have known for 20 years, others for only a year. I was struck by how a community rallies when you need it.
I know that not everyone will be able to deal with this diagnosis, this discussion and with me during this time. I know that some people feel better saying nothing and not going into unknown uncomfortable territory. And I don't judge people for it. But for those willing to reach out and to take action, whether a text, or a facebook message, a balloon, a visit or a piece of cake, I thank you.
I think that the next chapter of my life is going to be hard. Very hard. But with the help and love and support of this amazing community of people, I believe that I will be okay.
One of my favourite quotes is the of french author Emile Zola, "If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud."
Live out loud indeed.