Thursday, July 26, 2012

We Melanoma-People Aren't The Easiest Bunch To Live With

Those with melanoma are thinking, "Who? Me? Nah. Somebody else maybe."

Those who love us are thinking, "Oh yeah! So true! Preach it, Sister!"

So. Sister will preach. Let me pull up my trusty soapbox for this one and a mirror. This is for me, too. Sigh.

I float around cyberspace and hang with my melahomies on a daily basis. And we're great people. I really do love us. Remember that. I really do love us!

I also float around cyberspace and hang with those who love us and are our care-givers on a daily basis. And they're great people. I really do love them. And they really do love us. Remember that. They really do love us!

But, melahomies, I'm finding out that while we're nice to everybody else on the planet, we aren't always the nicest to those who are nearest and dearest to us. We can have smiles for the people who draw blood and torture us with tests and procedures, we can be polite to doctors who make us wait and receptionists who mess up our appointments, but we can be downright nasty to those we share a house with. Or those who come on a regular basis to see about us. I'm talking about our spouses, our parents, our children, our siblings, our significant others...these people we really would die for, we can make their lives miserable...while they are trying to make ours better.

And we usually do NOT realize it. And when we do, we say we can't help it. They understand that we "can't help it." They understand we're miserable that life has taken this twist and turn and that life will never be straight again. They know we wish things could go back like before and we feel powerless in the face of this disease. They know the scanxiety that starts even a month or so before scans...they have scanxiety too! If we can't work like we did at one time, they know we wish we could provide for our families like before. They know disease can progress to where life revolves around appointments instead of around family. They know because they are part of it and they try and make it as easy for us as they can. They step up to the plate and take our place at bat and explain to the children why we can't play, they explain to friends why we can't go out, they explain to others what we cannot and often will not explain for ourselves. They are our buffer.They know we didn't ask for this disease.

They didn't ask for it either. Melanoma is just as much their disease as it is ours. It just attacks and works in a different way. They have the fears too. They have pain too. They watch us and they really can't take the pain away or change the situation and they feel helpless too. This affects their family too. Their finances are hurt too. And maybe they can have their crabby moments, but often (maybe usually) their less-than-best moments reflect what we give them.

Melahomies, have you ever stopped and considered ALL your loved one puts up with? Have you ever considered that they really do not have to, that they can choose to walk? Bolt? It happens. It happens.

I'm talking to me, too. Most of us, maybe all of us, need to pay close attention to our tones, our moods, our actions, our responses. I'm not saying be Little Miss or Mister Sunshine all the time. That's totally unrealistic. But as noon, suppertime, bedtime roll around, ask yourself at each interval if you've shared a smile with your loved one yet. Have you been pleasant? Said, "I love you," "Thank you." "That was a good meal." You get the point. Have you had a decent conversation without blowing up?

When scan time and appointments near, you know your routine; you know when you start getting attirude and edgy. Try and make a conscious effort to be kinder. We can be an angry lot and make life very unpleasant for those who choose to live with us. Melanoma isn't their fault. And it's not ours either.

We really don't need an advocate for our behavior. They understand and love us anyway. They choose to be there with and for us anyway. They know why we are as we are sometimes.

But they need an advocate to point out to us, and who better than one of us, that we need to give them some credit and kindness instead of anger. "Anger" is something I'm seeing mentioned over and over. We take our anger out on them and we're hurting the ones who love us the most and who we need the most. We need them. Don't make an already stressful situation worse.  Make it a point, a personal point, to become aware of how angry you speak or act and then take steps to do something about it.

Find your own support group, online or in your community. Don't do this without the support of others who can identify with what you're going through. Talk to your clergy or a therapist who specializes in working with people with cancer.

Be cognizant of who you smile at and are kind to. And who you do not smile at and are not kind to and then don't make excuses if you bite the heads off of the people who live with you. We all can bank on the old adage that we're often worse to those closest to us. Just because it's an old adage and it's true doesn't make it right.

Give those closest to you you best self. At least a smile for starters. Find other outlets for your anger and fears. Don't unleash them all on someone you love. Ask yourself, "If I heard someone talk to my ---- like I just did or saw someone do to my ---- what I just did, what would my reaction be?"

That little exercise might just prove to be eye-opening.

And it might just make your loved ones grateful.