Rules for Visiting Her Royal Highness Miryam

or, how to hang out with a cancer patient

  1. The B'Shalom house is a scent-free zone. No, for real. Miryam has multiple chemical sensitivities and the slightest scent (even natural scents!) can send her into a full-blown migraine within minutes (especially lavender). Yes, your scented laundry detergent is enough to disqualify you. Also your shampoo, conditioner, breath spray, and possibly deodorant. Basically, you have to be a stinky hippie to come over here. At the very least, consider what you have on and whether it's scented, and be prepared for us to sorrowfully send you home if the chemicals start causing her to be sick. We love you and it's nothing personal.
  2. Please don't come over before noon, and if you have to be around anyway, please wait outside because your mere presence is enough to wake her up. Since restful sleep is even more vital to her health than a normal person's, I am an asshole about protecting it.
  3. If you are even remotely sick, YOU MUST STAY AWAY. The woman has cancer and is therefore immuno-compromised. Catching someone's cold can turn into a weeks-long ordeal at the very least and could be actually life-threatening at worst. If you've been around a sick person, please stay home. If you have even the faintest beginnings of illness (tightness in the chest, a cough, a sniffle, whatever), please stay home. It really is that serious. I am even more of an asshole about this than about her sleep.
  4. If you need to schedule something, go through Joey. Miryam can't be expected to handle the scheduling of anything. As a corollary, understand that due to the nature of having cancer, 99% of events will have to be played by ear, which usually means she or we will be a "maybe" until the actual starting time of the event, at which point you will know whether or not we can show up by virtue of whether or not we show up.
  5. For bonus points: if you're visiting the home of someone who is chronically ill it's a nice touch to leave the place a little better than you found it. If you were visiting a family who had just had a baby, you might throw in a load of laundry or do some dishes. This is a kind, well-appreciated thing to do for the family of a chronically ill person, too. You have no idea how overwhelmed that family is but I assure you it's a lot more than they look, no matter how bad it already looks on the surface. If you possibly can, chip in a little before you go.
  6. And remember: IT'S NOTHING PERSONAL. Cancer is a weird, unnatural state of being and it's a bitch and a half to manage on a daily basis. We all do what we can and we love you.