Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Naughty Word

Cancer is a naughty word. When you hear someone else say it, it takes your breath away and leaves your head full of questions. What kind of cancer? How bad is it? Did they get it all with surgery? Will this person live? When the word cancer is used to diagnose a loved one, the shock is even greater and you are left with a million more questions. I know. John was diagnosed in November.

Our world has turned upside down once again. Pretty soon, things will have turned upside for us so many times that we should be right side up again. Hopefully this is the time. I won't give a lot of details here, because I have started a caringbridge site for John that explains everything that has happened, and satisifies my urge to deal with situations through writing. I have also been able to deal with this situation through knitting.

My good friend Karen was diagnosed with cancer several years ago, and after the first gasp of shock and after the many initial questions had been answered, I took out my needles and made her some chemo caps. Karen was the kind of person who never asked for help. Even during her treatment, which lasted for more than a year, she never called to ask for meals or help transporting her or anyone in her family. She was given these things, and was very grateful for the help, but she got through things on her own. I gave her three different colors and styles of caps, wondering if they would be a welcomed comfort. I got my answer a few months later when she called me out of the blue. After catching up over the phone for several minutes, I asked her if there was anything that I could do for her. She stammered a bit and was obviously uncomfortable, but then asked if I would make her some more chemo caps. She loved them. She asked if she could have some that were a bit longer and would cover her ears so that she could wear them at night because her ears got cold. I said that I could. I asked her what colors and what types of yarns that I had used that she liked the best, and immediatly cast on stitches to fill the order I was humbled to have been given.

When Karen went into remission and returned to work, people asked her during one lunch break about all of the things that she had been given during her treatment. She spoke of DVDs, books, meals, blankets, and then said that she had donated everything that she had been given during her treatment because she wanted to put that part of her life behind her. A few seconds later, she looked at me and said, "except for the chemo caps that you made for me, Kristyn. Those I carefully packed away just in case I need them again." We all hoped that she never would.

Several months later, her cancer returned and she went for more difficult treatments. My caps went with her. She didn't make it, and cancer took her too young.

Last year, one of my mother's friends was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my needles were again filled with chemo cap stitches. Her treatments have finished, and she is doing very well. I hope that the caps brought her comfort as well.

Now, cancer has hit much closer to home. It has hit in my home, in fact. John was diagnosed in November and I immediately cast on stitches for his chemo caps. There are some differences with his, though. He has specific orders. He wants caps that he can wear in public that will support the school colors of the school he works for and the school our daughter plays on teams for. Of course this wish has been granted. Being male, he also has an easier time pulling off the bald look. He doesn't wear the caps all of the time like my friends did, or like the women in the oncology center do. But, his caps are cerished just as much because he knows how much it means to me to be able to support him in any way that I can. He will beat this thing, and we will be stronger because of it. And hopefully our world will be set right side up for us to march along together again.

If cancer has affected a friend or loved one in your life, consider voting for this cause on Obama's site. The strong issues created by the public on this site will be given to our future president. Let's make sure he knows that cancer needs to end.


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