And that is what happened this week, I was getting frustrated and angry with people. And I try really hard not to react to people that way. But it happened this week, with my son, my co-workers and probably the general public. I was really having an awful day. And when I feel like that I want nothing more than to talk to my Mom. After 51 years, there are still those times that you need the comfort of the conversation with your Mom. But I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer in 2012, so I can’t make any of those phone calls to her. But I do have the memories of her and our conversations.
So, between my tears and anger, I remembered the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Judith Viorst wrote the book and Ray Cruz illustrated it in 1972. If you have never read it, you must. If you don’t have your own personal copy, you need to get one. And get the hard copy, I think those are more special. My Mom was the one that introduced me to the book. I don’t really remember when, but we talked most about it as adults.
In fact, on those really rotten days, whether it was her or I who was having one, there would be a phone call that started with I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And we each knew exactly how the other was feeling that day. And most times, by the end of the conversation, the world seemed a little less awful.
I don’t want to spoil the book for you if you haven’t read it, so if you don’t have a copy, here is a YouTube link to the reading of the book with illustrations, it is only 7 minutes. https://youtu.be/pTesxhlqr1k. Watch it now, I will pause my story until you have watched.
Yeah Alexander had a really crappy day. We all can relate to a grown-up version to a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I think the last line of the book is the reason my Mom and I loved it so much.
"It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia."
Mom wisdoms. Nothing better to bring things back into perspective. And Alexander’s Mom did just that. In her response to Alexander she said, "some days are like that." She is totally right. Some DAYSare like that. She didn’t say some weeks, some months, some years or even some lifetimes. Just some DAYS.
I believe this can be true for cancer patients and their loved ones. Some days do suck – no way to sugar coat it. They just suck. But there can be better days ahead. Days where we can experience joy, days where you awaken to beautiful sunny blue skies, days filled with good times with loved ones, days where you can experience the beauty of nature. The kind of days that you wish won’t end.
I often get asked, "what does Cancer Patient Services do?" And my answer can be long because we offer so many different types of support, financial assistance,medical supplies and equipment, individual counseling support services, patient navigationand many healing arts services and programs. But I can also give a very short answer. We help people rediscover joy. That answer is one that usually generates some puzzled looks from the person asking the question. CPS can be like Alexander’s mom to cancer patients and their family members. Cancer definitely creates terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. There is no arguing that. But like Alexander’s mom, CPS can help you to get through those days. We help our clients to get through their bad days to their better days – days filled with joy.
At CPS we want more than just to help people on their bad days, we want them to have the opportunity to experience good days as well. We do that by lending a client a wheelchair so that can attend their granddaughter’s wedding. It happens when we have two clients who would have never crossed paths, now developing a supportive relationship because they met through a Healing Arts class. Or even when a family member returns to visit us with a plate of cookies. Just to say "thank you" for all the support we provided after their loved one passed.
We can’t stop the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. At CPS, we acknowledge those days occur, but also that it is just a DAY. And it is possible to rediscover joy.
Maybe someone should write the sequel to Alexander’s story.
Alexander and the beautiful, delightful, positively marvelous, very good day!
Self-proclaimed Joy Warrior
P.S. As I finish up this blog, I think I am ready to “people” again. I think I just needed a reminder from Mom that some days are like that!