On Finding One's Place in the Support Crew

So, the past few days have been a whirlwind of emotions (or "chemotions" as Lacey called them), information, struggle and for me - a lot of confusion about where to fit in, how to be the most useful, and what exactly I am feeling in my role as a recent cancer survivor, close friend to Lacey, and huge Spencer fan.  The conversations I've had with some of my own caregiver team (Ryan and my mum) have at least somewhat helped me to sort out what is going on in my own head and heart.

Because I spent a lot of time, between getting the news Friday and going to brunch on Sunday, working on Team Spencer designs for the Cafe Press shop I set up to help raise money for Spencer, Ryan was getting sort of concerned that I was obsessing over the designs and making myself more upset.  Through some tears and a lot of thinking and explaining, I managed to not only get him to understand, but also understand myself, what I felt like I was accomplishing with the creation of these designs.  And it is, for me, a way to give other people hope.  And to give the army of caregivers and supporters that Spencer (and Lacey and Todd) have a WAY to feel like they are doing something.  Anything.  My mum explained, quite beautifully, to me that as a caregiver while I was going through my cancer treatments, what she mostly felt was helpless.  There was no way to make it less painful or speed up the process.  No amount of love or grilled cheese sandwiches or new sheets and pillows could make it all go away any faster.  And for her, and my dad and Ryan who were with me every day of it all - THAT might have been the worst part.  So I think that that is what I want to do.  To give some of the people out there who may not know what to do, a way to feel like they are helping just a little.  To give them something to make them smile.  To give Lacey and Todd reminders of how many people are there fighting with them.  (And, on a more selfish note, to give myself more practice at designy type stuff. It's something I truly enjoy doing, but when you have no reason to do it... you don't.  And if you don't do it, you don't get any better at it.  And I want to get better at it.  So the Team Spencer store is a way for me to work on honing my skills as well as helping my friends.)

I've also sort of decided that if I need to burn up all my vacation days to be there for Lacey when she needs me, I'd rather do that than go on any vacation anywhere.  So if you're looking for me at work, I might be there less for a while...

But yeah.  The gist of this is that I think we all need to understand that finding our "place" on the support crew is not an easy task.  But as long as you are doing something that is not about your struggle or your "stuff" but about helping the others who are struggling - be is Spencer himself or Lacey & Todd, or the Ganserts or Petroviches or countless others on Team Spencer.  None of us has to be helpless.  We can all help each other and give each other hope, strength, support and care.

Love love, Phoebe

PS - Don't forget to visit the Team Spencer Shop to get your support goodies, like these:


I can't even put into words how much everything everyone has done, ESPECIALLY you, means to me. Because we were going through so much garbage last year, I didn't get to support you as much I should have and I'll always regret that. Right now, I feel totally helpless and guilty because I can't make this go away for my son. I need someone to blame and I'm blaming myself. We wanted a baby, he had a chromosomal condition, he became predisposed to Leukemia because of it, and now he's having chemo. We did this. I'm just less and less able to wrap my mind around it all. It's not a great day.
phoebe marie said…
My wife, my Lacey, my silly friend...
There is no way I would have expected any more from anyone than they were able to give during my junky year. You made me smile and laugh at times when I needed it, and that was more than I would have even dreamed of asking for while you were going through what you went though.
I hope you can learn how to stop blaming yourself. You have to believe and know that you DID NOT do anything but love that child from the moment you knew he was in there (and you secretly called me to tell me the news and I knew it anyhow because you never call me unless something is really up). And even now, everything you are doing is good. I can't even imagine how difficult it is to be in your shoes, but you are all so strong. You will get through this.
And you will come out the other end more friggin' awesome than ever. Stronger. More full of love. More will of hope and gratitude.
Hang in there, lady. And when you can't keep your head up any longer, I'll be there to help you prop that thing up.
Love you.
jim nelson said…
Beautifully said. You're a giver....I guess it's in our genes. Don't question your gut, and just keep giving. The reward is in the giving. Love you.. Tat dad
mizzjoz said…
Every person on the support side finds their way of being "generous". What you're doing is exactly what you're supposed to be doing.

I learned that the hard way when my first husband was ill. People offered to clean my house, do my laundry, write out the checks to pay my bills (online paying wasn't an option in 1997), walk my dog/take my dog for a few days so I could be at the hospital, created a phone chain so I didn't have to talk to everyone (again 1997 - no Facebook, no Caring Bridge, etc.) All of this made a huge difference. Did I want people to visit him in the hospital? Hell yeah, but some people don't do hospitals or sickness. Heck, I wouldn't have either if I wasn't smack dab in the middle of it all!

So you see sweet Phoebe, you are doing exactly what you need to do. You might even find a calling in helping to brighten up the chemo rooms with your fabulous art or coming up with art projects that kids on chemo can do while they're getting treatments.
Michelle Auer said…
These designs are so wonderful and thoughtful! I love it! You are doing good, and have such a big heart. He is lucky to have you on his side. You can show him how to beat cancer just like Auntie P!

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