What Timmy Taught Me (or How to Ask for Help)

What Timmy Taught Me (or How to Ask for Help)katharine2

-Katharine Conroy

A number of years ago, I was diagnosed with a Brain Tumor, which I not so lovingly named, Timmy.  For the record, I don’t have anything against anyone named Timmy, it just seemed like a good name for a tumor and I could address my feelings towards Timmy, the Tumor.

But I digress.  There were so many lessons that I learned, during the time of Timmy.  The most important lesson for me, was that it’s ok to ask for help and how much people really do want to help you (and strangers – think of all of the donations during a natural disaster that people make).

Growing up, I was taught to be strong, that showing any sign of weakness was bad.  I equated asking for help as a sign of weakness, that I couldn’t accomplish x by myself.  This did lead me to take risks early on in work, take on roles that I wasn’t fully qualified and work my butt off to be able to learn and be able to do the job.

And then one Friday, before the 4th of July weekend, I was SHOCKED to find out that not only did I have a brain tumor, it was huge! Luckily, I have the most amazing group of girlfriends.  One of my friends went with me to meet the neurosurgeon and afterwards, the two of us took turns calling the “girlies” to meet up for drinks and potentially get drunk.  One of the girlies was flying out early the next morning on an international trip.  She stopped in the middle of packing and came to the bar to meet us.

It was 6 weeks from diagnosis to surgery and then 6 weeks of recovery to 26 days of radiation.

During those 6 weeks, I contacted friends and family far and wide to tell them about Timmy.  My sister and sister-in-law took turns babysitting me prior to the surgery and then my best friend flew into town for the week of the surgery.  But before any of this could happen, I had to take a deep breath and acknowledge that I just couldn’t do this by myself, I needed help and asking for it wasn’t going to make me weak.

Everyone in my life showed up and showed up huge.  And they didn’t show up as a burden, they showed up because they wanted to.  They came to my house prior to the surgery, they came to the hospital during recovery and they came to the rehab hospital.  We didn’t know about the radiation and I didn’t know how hard radiation would be, so a few weeks after surgery, they went back to normal lives and then I shifted to radiation.

I hope that none of you have to learn about asking for help due to a significant health issue, but in everyday course of your life.  Know that asking for help doesn’t make you weak and your people will want to help – but they need to know that you need help.  Hopefully, you’ll end up with crazy funny stories that you can reflect back on and smile.

About Katharine:

Katharine and I met during a speech class in college and we became fast friends.   Years later, we had the opportunity to work together at Accenture.  She has also been a huge help to me with her marketing expertise.  We have learned a lot from each other throughout our friendship and I admire her for her honesty and courage through hardships. 



Katharine Conroy

Digital Marketing Strategist for Fortune 100 companies

t: @celtickat