Circle Around Our Campfire
On July 14, 2015, Cynthia Allison-Billmeyer wrote, “Well, I need all of you! Circle around our campfire … I have infiltrative breast cancer. I’m scared, tired, worried about my brilliant daughter’s (high school) year, worried about not having energy, worried about the inevitable hair loss, missing my tennis loves, pool buddies, book club sisters, worry about my momma, sister, nieces and my magnum opus. So … we need prayers … we need every imaginable kind of help from our family and friends. Run to us, not away.”
A diagnosis of cancer changes everything. It forces you on a journey that is often deeply powerful, brutally humbling and charged with many changes. And for those who have witnessed the battle, a personal diagnosis can be overwhelming. Cynthia lost her husband to prostate cancer in 2008.
“Years ago, when I moved back to Pocatello from Wisconsin with my terminally ill husband, two house payments, a young daughter and cobra insurance, Drive for a Cure paid for my first mammogram,” Cynthia said. “Well, now I am a survivor, I want to tell everyone how important it is to get your mammogram; to be an advocate for yourself and be a friend to those in need. There are resources to help you pay for your mammogram!”
As a survivor who had three tumors, four weeks of oral chemotherapy, surgery followed by six weeks of radiation, she prays for a cure. Before there is a cure, her hope is that all breast cancers are caught in their earliest stages when there are more treatment options.
“If 3D mammography would have been available when I had my first mammogram, they may have been able to catch the tumors earlier,” said Cynthia. “For those of us with dense breast tissue and small breasts, this technology is a game changer.”
“Keep the prayers and positive energy coming,” she writes. “It will be a tough year, but I have amazing peeps and I know all too well how lucky/blessed I am. My cup runneth over.”
Her year was filled with cancer therapy, but it too was a year filled with friendship, prayer, travel, weddings, graduations, and much gratitude.
On February 16, 2016 she writes, “Done! Cheers! Thank you to my fabulous sister and extraordinary boyfriend for accompanying me to my last treatment. Thank you to amazing care team at Portneuf Cancer Center … I can’t say enough about the wonderful staff in the Cancer Center … (and) thank you to the entire camp circle … Let the healing begin.”
How to Be a Part of the Circle of Helpers
As one who is had dealt with a diagnosis as well as loss, Cynthia has a few tips so you can be a resources to others. It is quite common to feel uncertain about what to do; so often, rather than do anything, we do nothing. Here a few tips to reach out to a friend in need:
- Don’t run away or avoid me
- Pray for me
- Don’t ask me what I need. I often don’t know and I am likely not to have an answer
- Please know that I love you, but may not have the energy to see you or even to talk to you
- Bring dinner over in disposable containers
- If I am not up to a visit, it is okay to just drop stuff off on the porch
- Drop off a gift card
- Listen and hear me
- Share a hug, a smile and compassion