Two womens' heads act as a Venn Diagram - it shows that combining their brainpower helps them spark ideas

Bounce Ideas and Talk it Out

I am on a patient advisory board for my medical clinic. We decided to become part of Imerman Angels, a group that offers mentor support for cancer patients and caregivers who request it. The idea is that we will be available to mentor other patients at our cancer clinic, but because we are part of the national organization, we may be matched with anyone who wants someone with whom to talk.

Find someone to open up to

When I signed up, I was told that I might not get a match for months or even years. Apparently, a lot of people with lung cancer have a need to talk because within a week or so, I had been matched with three different women who had signed up requesting a mentor. Two just wanted to chat by email, but one wanted to talk by phone.

It is the phone conversation that brought the idea for this article to mind. She and I really hit it off. When she signed up for a mentor, it was because she wanted to talk to someone who has been there done that and so that she wouldn’t have to burden her kids with “cancer stuff.”

Seeing a dilemma from a new point of view

One of the things we discussed was whether she could or should retire. She is capable of working, with workplace modifications, but she works in a healthcare setting and is understandably somewhat concerned about constantly being around germs. She is strongly considering retiring, but wonders about finances. Given that I faced that dilemma a few years ago...and decided to learn to exist on far less income but also far less stress ... we discussed different scenarios and options that she might have.

We talked about using retirement income, Social security benefits, and savings as ways to keep afloat. But it wasn’t until we were near the end of our conversation that she mentioned in passing that her mom was half Navajo Indian and her dad was full Navajo. I stopped her immediately and asked her if she had considered the benefits that are available to her as a Native American. She had not even thought about checking into that potential source of assistance.

I don’t know if much will come out of it, but I suspect she will find assistance for herself as well as some of her family members who can use a little help. In no way was that the purpose of our call, but just having someone to bounce ideas off of really helps to get ideas flowing.

We can’t always see the forest for the trees

I am not suggesting that everyone needs to run out and find a mentor. But I am saying that it might help you work out some dilemmas if you talk to someone you know and trust ... or even if you choose to chat with an impartial bystander who knows nothing about you except what you tell them.

Sometimes we get stymied when considering our options. We can’t always see the forest for the trees, but talking it out with someone else may help bring clarity to an issue that might otherwise take months to resolve.

I tend to not do this. I usually try to work everything out in my own mind without bringing anyone else into the conversation. If my mentee had followed my example, she would never have thought to check out what benefits she might be eligible for because of her Native American status.

Don't hesitate to talk to others who've been there

It is nice to talk to people who understand, who have been where you are. If you find that describes you, I encourage you to seek a mentor or participate in the various online cancer support communities, including the one for LungCancer.net on Facebook.

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