You Have/Can/Will Help

I cannot adequately express the significance of the love and concern that I have received since Wednesday when I publically shared my melanoma diagnosis. All this has come from people with whom I am close, others with whom I haven’t conversed in years, and still others whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting. I cannot thank you enough for the emotional, physical, and spiritual support I have received over the past four days, as well as that which has been afforded to us in the days and weeks to come.

Thank you as well to the hundreds of people who have viewed, read, and shared my original post https://medium.com/@petersjwh/i-have-cancer-1cd59bf3ebc4#.b6qmw6h97. For two weeks I wrestled with whether I should be as open and honest about my diagnosis and my strong reaction to it. Would it come off as angry? Or attention-seeking? Or sacriligious? Or, even worse, as whiny? I finally decided to move forward, if only to provide an outlet for my own self-expression.

It appears, however, that my story has succeeded towards another end: making space for others to tell their own stories. Many of you have shared cancer stories of your own or those of friends and family, as well as diagnoses the same or often much worse than mine. Feelings of pain and confusion and loss abounded, but also feelings of hope and healing and perhaps even awakening faith. Storytelling, after all, is a creative exercise — not simply in putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard but in constructing reality. Stories invite us into our past lives or even the lives of those passed, thus shaping our experience of the present and out outlook on the future. Perhaps in this way storytelling is an act of miracle-working, as new worlds wrought by mere words and hands come into existence. Just as I hoped that my story might make a Jesus-looking God become real before you, your stories set life before me and changed me through the encounter.

In exactly 24 hours, I’ll go under the surgeon’s knife with the intention of excising any remaining cancer from my body. A full body examine eight days later will hopefully confirm these hopes. My surgery will also be followed by another two weeks of immobilization, meant to ensure that the skin graft placed on my lower leg has the opportunity to set.

I am very poor at receiving help and even worse at asking for it. Since the day of my diagnosis, however, people have been begging to help us out in any way possible. I did not know at the time when or how we might need assistance, but promised to share our needs when they came to light. So if nothing more than to follow through on that promise, here’s the scoop for those who are interested, without casting guilt on anyone who is not. (I suppose it’s a chance for me to practice humility.) Our friend Erica set up a page (http://www.takethemameal.com/meals.php?t=WBVZ0132) to sign up to bring our family a meal for the two weeks that I am laid up. The site gives all the details you should need, but also a link to contact Erica of necessary. If you want to visit, you’re also welcome to do so. My only caveats: (1) do not visit me at the hospital (Chelsey and her very confrontational personality will escort you out of the room) and (2) let me know if/when you would plan to visit me at home (I’ll be largely stuck with my foot in the air for 14 days, so running to answer the door won’t be a forte).

Once again, thank you for all the ongoing support and encouragement that you have provided Chelsey, Chloe, and me. You give us endurance in our weariness.

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