Heavy Heart

Pondering deep thoughts about cancer… I’ve been doing cancer education and outreach for about 9 years now… It was a good friend of mine who I went through chemotherapy with that convinced me that I needed to go out and be cancer warrior for our people and do something about cancer education and support with Alaska Native people…

I was a better person with her; she was such a beautiful person and it was in her honor that I went forward into the cancer world, even though I wanted to quit when she passed. My heart still aches for her at times, sigh.

Now 9 years later, I lose another friend to cancer. We also went through cancer treatments together. Hers metastasized ­čÖü but she faced the years of treatments, the years of ups and downs, with such grace, humor, and realness. 9 years, and today, she walked on. She knew since Aug. 12th that the end of her long journey was coming to an end, she knew… I just couldn’t imagine, but she said she was tired, and it was now in our Creator’s hands. Sigh.

Today, I have a heavy heart.

Today I am thinking how it was a friend and a fellow cancer survivor that got me on this path of being a cancer warrior, and now it’s the loss of another friend to cancer has helped me to decide it is time to get out of the cancer education field. I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now. I’m not being negative, I just been thinking it is time to help in other ways.

Cancer education and outreach is heart-full work, no two ways about it, but I’ve been getting to the point where I’m frustrated with the lack of support for Alaska Native and American Indian cancer survivors. I’ve been frustrated how ┬áthere is no funding to help with “living beyond cancer.” I’m frustrated how some people, doctors or “experts” think they know more about how cancer affects us but they just don’t understand about the hardship cancer causes us. I’m frustrated because instead of being told to honor our feelings and our cancer story, we’re told to “think positive” or “quit being so negative” ­čśŤ ┬áHonoring our feelings is the most positive thing we can do for ourselves – we are the ones who are living in it, with it, around it, and hopefully through it… and honoring that story is one of the most important things we can do to put us on the path to healing and living beyond cancer.

I’ve been frustrated for awhile, and the loss of another friend, may just be the sign I needed. I knew that being a cancer warrior is no more for me, sigh. I just don’t have it in me any longer.

I’ve been wanting to do more with our traditional arts and stories, to create beauty out of something that can be not so beautiful, and maybe it is time to switch gears and help others to share their story and arts. I think this is a way I could keep helping, but honestly, I just don’t know any more…

Please be gentle with yourself, and with one another. I wish you peace, wellness, and strength.

Resources for Dealing with the Loss of a Friend/Loved One

Coping with Grief by Cancer.Net

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving by Cancer Care

Support for Caregivers: When Someone You Love Has Advanced Cancer

Helping Someone Who’s Grieving by HELPGUIDE.ORG


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