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Using Help

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“You have cancer!” Those were the first words I heard after coming out of surgery. My first thought was “Oh, good. I can eat now, and no one will judge me for it.”

I’d been abstinent for almost three years at that point, but once a compulsive overeater, always a compulsive overeater. I didn’t like the thought of not being abstinent, though, so my next thought was, “No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 84). Even before I learned what was wrong with me, I knew the only way I was going to get though was by helping others. I knew I had to be abstinent throughout my cancer and cancer treatment to show others and myself that with God’s help it was possible. And then I fell back asleep.

During the course of my illness and treatment, I learned to:

  • Ask for help.
  • Accept the help I asked for.
  • Have honest interactions by offering a hug to friends who had difficulty finding the words to tell me they loved me.
  • Give people a list of foods I could eat so they could prepare my meals because friends want to help but they don’t know how. A list made everyone happy.
  • Be angry with God and turn my life and my will over to him anyway.
  • Ride the waves because whatever “it” is won’t happen overnight.
  • Write. Write. Write.
  • Ask for meetings at my home so I could attend.
  • Do service. Service made me feel a part of something greater than what I was going through.
  • Keep my commitments. I still planned to go to World Service Business Conference, so I had to keep my commitment to my abstinence and my sub-committee. It gave me something to look forward to.
  • Use the Board of Trustees. I admit it, I felt alone. I tried to find other OA members who had abstinently gone through what I was going through. I called my trustee and cried in her ear. She asked the other trustees, and soon I was getting phone calls from around the world. It was up to me to call back.
  • Be patient with others and myself.

I still have a hard time asking for help. I realize I hate inviting someone else into my insanity. But if I don’t, I may not make it through the next bout of life.

A few months ago, I was one year cancer-free and looking forward to the next World Service Business Conference. The Conference theme was “Responsibility—To Carry the Message.”

What’s my message? If I can make it through cancer and cancer treatment abstinently, so can you. We can do it together with our Higher Power’s help.

— Lyn C., Western Massachusetts USA

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