Sharing and Caring

When I was in high school there was a group that met regularly to share their thoughts and feelings about their Lord and personal savior, Jesus Christ. They came to school early and had Bible study in the library. The group was called Sharing and Caring.

I was not a member.

 Generally speaking, I am not big on sharing, though I do occasionally care. Which is why I’m surprised that I spent several hours last night and most of today in a room full of cancer survivors who were sharing and caring.

I’ve signed up to be a volunteer through the local university’s cancer center. I’ll chat on the phone with someone who’s asked for support. Ideally, I’ll be matched with someone with my same disease. But during the hours I spent in the conference room with the other 15 or so volunteers, I came to realize that every group of strangers has a few common personalities. To wit:

  • The Professor. They say the exact same sentence 3 times, only with different words. The next day, they say the exact same sentences again.
  • The Crier. If you can’t mention the word cancer without choking up, you might need to volunteer at an art musuem or animal shelter.
  • The Euphemist. Grandchildren are “dear angels.” People don’t die, they “pass.” People don’t have cancer, they have this “cruel, cruel disease.” And it’s not a colostomy bag, it’s “Winnie the Pooh.”
  • The Anecdotalist. (That’s a real word, by the way.) Of course we want to hear one more story.
  • The Expert. Somewhat like the Professor, only without the credentials.

And where was I? Doodling in my notebook. Wondering if anyone would notice if I took out my iTouch and played Scrabble.

Until the leader passed around the little basket full of folded up strips of paper. We all took one. I unfolded mine and looked at it.

Hell.

“How did your cancer treatment affect your fertility and sex life.”

Double hell.

“Why don’t you go first?” the leader said. Looking straight at me.

“I got the sex question,” I said. Everyone in room guffawed. I could feel myself turning red. I mean, I’ll talk about a lot of stuff, but no way am I going into this–not in front of the professor, the crier, et al.

“Well,” I said…”Iwasreallytireddoihavetotalkanymoreaboutthis?”

More laughter. More redness.

We moved on to the next question. It was about insurance. I could’a knocked that one out of the park.

Evidently I shared and cared enough to complete the training though. I have the suitable-for-framing certificate to prove it.

9 Comments

Filed under Cancer

9 responses to “Sharing and Caring

  1. I’m the opposite, I share more than I care. But your post really grabbed me. My sister had breast cancer and completely refused, REFUSED, to participate in any group therapies because she didn’t want to have to deal with the type of people you describe. She said, “My cancer doesn’t define me. I wouldn’t hang with these people in normal life, why should I now.” Sounds like you can relate! I would have been all over that sex question, but I like to make people blush : ) Great post.

  2. Niece Lash

    Only you, my dear aunt, only you. You are much more of a carer than you realize.

  3. hereinfranklin, this sentence cracked me the hell up today, thanks for the laugh:

    “Generally speaking, I am not big on sharing, though I do occasionally care.”

    Your description of the meeting is so real. I can just SEE you there squirming.

  4. Julie Fisher

    When I get cancer, you will be the first person I call. No anecdotes, no euphemisms, no tears, no sir. I’ll expect to hear “you’re gonna be fine”, “you’ll get through this”, “same thing happened to me, no big deal in the end”. Then we’ll laugh about something one of us says, and I will indeed be fine.
    You and my father have taught me the huge importance of a sense of humor and elegance. And by “elegance” I mean a sense of timing, grace, silence.
    I’ve watched you “sharing and caring”. I vote for your brand of both.

  5. Who do you think wins in a fight between The Professor and The Euphemist? Because I’m probably of the former class and the latter drive me nuts.

  6. Gwen–your sister is good people. I wish her well.
    Lash–you owe me. And much love. 🙂
    Blue–I wasn’t voted Wittiest in my senior class for nothing!
    Julie–here’s hoping that’s a conversation we never have.
    Freeman–I’ll take the professor any day. Euphemisms drive me CRAZY!

  7. I’m here for totally selfish reasons like telling you that “I’ll take these Huggies.”

  8. Thanks…my sister passed away in 2007, but she was good people : ) and I’m sure she is well as she is now in heaven. Or at least I like to tell myself that! P.S. I love your blog: the writing, the layout, etc.

  9. Oh Gwen, I am so sorry. That sucks. There’s not a person on earth who hasn’t been kicked in the rear by cancer.

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I’m not a geek head–it’s just a standard template. I like to change the header art every couple of months. Usually with shots my husband takes.

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