The FAQ

As I begin this post, I’m watching the rain through my bedroom windows and thinking about Lloyd Dobler. The rain on his car is a baptism, he said, creating a new man and beginning his assault on the world. If it were that easy to create a new me, I’d run into the rain without hesitation. For now, the pelting sound of raindrops on the roof reminds me that I’m not alone, and that’s something I will hold to this morning.

I received so many repeating questions after posting that I have cancer. I tried to answer everyone’s messages individually, but I decided to just write up an FAQ to answer as much as I could all at once. If you’d like to know something I haven’t answered here or to you personally, please feel free to message me.

*****

What is the name of your cancer?

It’s Multiple Myeloma. I wasn’t trying to keep the name a secret, but I didn’t say it before just because there’s so much crazy stuff out there on the web. Friends have googled it and then sent me hysterical messages. So as with all things, google with a grain of salt.

What’s your prognosis? Have they given you a timeframe? 

This is something I’m not going to share publicly. Only God knows the number of my days for sure, and I just want to live life right now. If the disease progresses and I only have a short time left, of course I will let you all know. Until then, I just want to move forward and try not to take a single moment for granted.

Where are you living now? Are you able to work? 

I just moved in with a friend this past week, so I’m in the midst of unpacking and getting settled in again. I was hired recently as a contractor for a call center, but I was unable to finish the last part of training due to sickness. I’ll go in next week to finish that up, and then I’ll be able to start working from home. I’m praying that this job will enable me to continue working while sick so that I can start (and continue) earning an income again. There are definite pros and cons. I don’t get benefits and have to pay my own taxes, but I can set my own schedule and work in my pjs. Pajamas for the win.

Can we drive you to appointments and sit with you through procedures?

I hate answering this question, because I feel like a jerk. I’m deeply grateful that I have so many people around who are willing to drive me to appointments, sit with me in doctor offices, and hold my hand through procedures. Truly. You all warm my heart. But remember my comparison to a dog wanting to lick its wounds alone? I just don’t do well with a bunch of people around. I’m an introvert. I need to hear information and process it alone, and then I take it to others to process with me. A friend took me to an appointment a couple of weeks ago and then ended up waiting in the hallway. When people are with me, I feel like I have to make sure they are comfortable and I work too hard to lighten the mood for them, when I should instead just be focusing on what’s ahead of me.

As I sat curled up in the fetal position on a table this week for a bone marrow biopsy, backside exposed to the room, I was mortified enough just in front of the medical personnel. It just makes me feel incredibly vulnerable, and I’d rather crawl under the earth. I’ve been taking care of myself since I was a teenager. I’ve driven myself to the ER in the middle of the night more times than I can count. I just do it without thinking now. If/when I get to the point of not being able to take myself to appointments, I will definitely be calling on friends to help. Until then, I would like to stubbornly exercise my independence while I still can. But thank you so much for being willing. Again, it’s not you–it’s me.

Have you considered trying (fill in the blank)? It’s a miracle drug/supplement/vitamin/vegetable/etc.! 

I’m so thankful that I have so many smart friends who have done research and know of various natural remedies for cancer and other diseases. I promise that I’m reading all of your suggestions, and I will look into them. I also promise that I’ve done hours and hours of my own research, and I will be trying various things. The body is an amazing thing, and God has given us so many amazing things to keep it going.

Why don’t you go for a second opinion at (fill in the blank) hospital?

I have gotten more than one opinion. I like my doctor. My doctor is consulting with other smart doctors. I’m not closing the door to going somewhere else in the future, but I’m at peace with our plan for now.

Besides prayer, what can we do to help?

I’ve been asked this question more than any other, and I’m so humbled by everyone’s desire to help. I’m just horrible at knowing what I need or how to ask for things. Several people have suggested that I give everyone a list of practical things they can do over the coming months, like bringing meals or helping me clean or getting the oil changed in my car. I’d like to keep doing my own chores as long as I have the capability, but I understand that the less energy I have to exert on the little stuff, the more energy I can exert on staying healthy.

With that in mind, I’ll throw this out there for now: meals are one of the hardest things for me to come up with on my own right now. I love cooking, but for whatever reason it just seems like a daunting task these days. So if you’re local and you think about it as you’re cooking throughout the week for your family, maybe you can send over a plate or freeze some food in smaller portions for me (or bigger portions for me and my roommate–I’m sure she’d appreciate it). It’d be super helpful to be able to pull a bag out of the freezer on a night when I can’t do much. I’m not picky. I don’t eat raw onions or seafood, but I’ll try just about anything else. I’d like to be eating as healthy as possible to give my body the best shot possible at fighting this disease. But sometimes you just have to eat a chocolate chip cookie, because, you know, balance is key.

But seriously, prayer and support are the best things you can do for me.

Do you want to talk about it? Or do you want to be distracted?

Yes. Both. I know sometimes I need to talk about it, but sometimes I just want to forget. So if you want to talk about it, feel free to bring it up; I’ll let you know if I’m not up for it. And if you want to just have fun and do life together, that’s okay with me, too.

*****

I can’t say thank you enough for all of the encouragement and support I’ve received over the last few days. My prayer is that somehow you all are encouraged by something in my journey.

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2 thoughts on “The FAQ

  1. Oh Amber. I don’t know how to form the sentences in my head. I am deeply saddened by this news. And as someone with the most fierce love for her own sister, I weep at the thought of you and your sisters and your family going through all of this. You are a strong and amazing woman and your faith is God is so wonderful. I will keep you in my prayers and I would love to cook you some meals and pray for you and whatever you might need. I love you girl. Stay strong. I know you will. xoxo

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