How to Move with Metastatic Cancer (hint: HELP!)


How do you handle huge life events with metastatic cancer? As best as you can and with slow determination. Asking for assistance from your friends and from your family sometimes doesn’t pan out. I have a wonderful friend I made years ago at a garage sale. She was a couple of dollars short and I’d covered her so she could enjoy a few vintage ceramics and beads.

Now, six years later Des is my friend and Des is my housekeeper. Through the course of time we’d found commonality in our eclectic eye for beads and for jewelry making. We drudged through the stress of packing, readying this memory box of 1600 square feet to move its contents elsewhere. We actually live in a pretty nice townhouse. If you’d like to check out my amateur “staging” here’s the link to the sales materials including a 3-D rendering and a video.

Removing the traces of 11 years of memories as eclectic and varied as the beads I collect brings about a sort of melancholy to my heart. Des came over to help me pack as we sell our townhouse. She also refuses to take a dime because what once were services have shifted into the kindness of a friendship. She commented that I’d give the shirt off my back, which I literally have done several times in my life. She said she couldn’t possibly take money from me when clearly I was the one who needed help right now.

My husband made sure she got paid for it, since she cannot afford the time and I cannot afford the intense guilt. I’ve never needed so much physical assistance before. I guess I’ll chalk it up to age and leave the cancer for another time. But I can’t, because it’s for the cancer we are moving and due to the cancer that I need help.

All the kindness I have shown her was reflected back at me in ways I never imagined. When we give it should never hold the expectation that we may receive something in return. But as my philosophy about karma is not to do bad in the world as it keeps you looking over your shoulder at whose anger is behind you. Then you cannot see the good that’s right in front of you and you either miss these opportunities or trip over them and fall on your face.

A change of residence is very high on the stress scale

My stress adds up to just under having a 50% chance over the next two years of having a catastrophic health event. I think I’m already there so I’ve beaten the stress scale by four and a half years. But looking back I had a very low level of stress in my life in the years leading up to my diagnosis, so go figure. Perhaps the subconscious predicts stressors before they arrive to eat us alive. I was planning a change of career and the very day – March 15, 2015 – was the same day I was diagnosed in the hospital and the day I was supposed to start a new job.

You Oughta Be in Pictures!

The house really shows well – I’ll have it even more staged for our open house on Sunday. There is so much work to do after living a full life for 11 years in a home. And our home has been really good to us. I’m grateful to it for giving us positive memories, but it’s time to close this chapter in our lives and move onto the next chapter .

I know intrinsically that this house will be wonderful to whomever buys her next. It’s stable and so well cared for and we feel bittersweet selling her but we leave it with good love and positive energy. After searching for our new digs, I believe you can tell if people who lived in a house were happy and if it looks like a product of divorce or ugliness. Not so here!

The Zombie Apocalypse

In the state of California, if someone died in a house in the three years prior to selling it you must disclose that event to the buyers? I found it morbid and kind of strange. our culture’s obsession with first person shooter games, zombies, and horror films directly opposes the feelings of disgust when faced with real death or the dying. I’d think people would be desensitized to death rather than creeped out by it.

It’s a huge decision to invest into a house. Love, time, energy, money and holiday spirit, all paint it the colors of the personalities who reside inside. Our next home will likely be my last move, my last address, the last place my name will be printed on mail and arrive in my mailbox. Maybe the quote about dying twice – once when your physical body dies and the last time someone says your name aloud – should be corrected to dying three times if we include the last time your name is printed on junk mail. I bet junk mail lists last a lot longer than even the youngest people who might speak of me later given the tenacity of mass marketers.

Oh, and I’ll submit this: if the last time you posthumously receive a piece of junk mail addressed to you is the last whisper of your name what does that say about our culture when we cannot even control having our online avatars removed from Facebook and Twitter. If that’s all true, then we’re all going to live forever. A planet of the walking dead carrying sacks of marketing materials for the Red Cross and coupons for barbecue. The zombie apocalypse is upon us.

10 comments on “How to Move with Metastatic Cancer (hint: HELP!)”

  1. Cancer is often a disease that lasts a long time, and people may get treatment for many years. Remember that encouragement and support can help a person with cancer regain hope, even when they feel beaten down by cancer or its treatment. The main problem occurs when someone is not able to manage his or her expenses in such situations one can take the health insurance plan mutual of omaha provider ( to get some relief at this critical time.

    1. I only wish this were an option but with metastatic stage four it’s a lifetime with a death sentence and no way out except miracles or radical remission. I live in hope. I’ll say this with honor and with my hand firmly in my own pocket for as long as I can handle it. Thank you for your thoughts and your good suggestions.

  2. Hi Ilene,
    Oh my goodness, moving is so stressful even when one is feeling well. And yes, it’s such an emotional process and just plain tons of work – even if you are getting help. I hope all goes as smoothly as possible. Waiting to hear how it all goes as you makes this transition to a new home.

  3. I have no words because this touches me in a very deep place. Needing care, through getting cancer, going blind and wheelchair bound as a result of the treatment, having a husband who also is sick and unable to cope as is needed, but with no way of getting help from anywhere else. A family that has walked away. A need to move house now, as a result of my disabilities, but then inability to do so. Wow! This touches SO deep. Hope all goes well for you llene in your new place.

    1. Abby, thank you for your warm wishes – my hub has been a huge help although coming out of a long depression he’s doing the best he can though not in the best order. On top of the “normal” stressors, he tries my patience but it’s not intentional. I have to push him to do all the things that must happen in order for our new life to unfold. And we both look forward to this new chapter. I wonder some days how long I’ll have to enjoy it. But I push those thoughts away with a broom and toss them out with a dust pan. Those negative thoughts are worthless.

      Much love and I hope you’re feeling well these days.

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