Learning to Receive during Breast Cancer and Chemotherapy

This is my hardest lesson through all this drama of Breast Cancer, Mastectomy and Chemotherapy:  learning to receive.    How hard that is for me.  I’ve always been a giver.  Some of it is just my nature being a First Born and alot of it is learned behavior from my religious upbringing.   It is better to give than receive.

I enjoy giving.  It makes people happy when you give, it makes you happy when you give, and it stretches your ability to love when you give.  And through the years, some people have really taken advantage of my willingness to give.  I know that, and it is no surprise.  But I’ve always wanted to error on the side of giving too much instead of giving too little.  I think God wants it that way.   So here I am in a position that I am not able to give very much right now.    Last week I didn’t have the energy to tell a friend Happy Birthday – couldn’t make the telephone call, let alone send a card.   That is painful to me not to be able to do so, an actual physical pain.   It truly hurts me not to be able to give.

Even worse than not being able to give is needing to ask for help.  That “help” word hasn’t even been in my vocabulary through my life.   Always being a take charge woman with a grandmother and a mom who were take charge women, “I need help” doesn’t come out of my mouth very readily.   Even saying those words makes me cry.

So, guess what?  I’ve had to learn to ask for help.   I have had to accept offers to take me to the grocery store or pick something up for me.   I have had to accept offers to drive me to medical appointments an hour away, all the while fighting the voice in my head that says, “Denise, get in the damn car and drive.”   I have had to learn to graciously accept friends’ gifts of food because I just can’t do it.   I have had to learn to ask my almost 80 yr old mom to do things for me that I would rather do for myself.  

I hate it. 

Asking for help is the hardest part for me I finally understood today.  I can take the nausea, fatigue and the fact that you feel like you are dying.  I can take the loneliness of staying in the house because it is cold and flu season.  I can even take my bald head, my wigs and turbans.

But having to say those words, “I need help”,   I will never get used to it, and I don’t want to get used to it!  And that’s the way it is going to be.  I do not have to like it!   Isn’t this the part you say, “SO THERE” and stick out your tongue?



  1. My goodness, Denise, I almost thought I wrote this one. This post put tears in my eyes. I feel you. It is temporary. However, we can still give in our own way–prayers, good wishes…Have a good day.

  2. I HATE asking for help too. It stinks. And when you’re going through chemo or surgery it gets annoying having to ask not once, but over and over. The good thing is that we have loved ones who are happy to help and it actually makes them feel good that they are able to be there for us to lighten the load.

    Hope things go better for you. God bless.

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