Try for a minute if you will to think about every time you’ve had to push through feeling sick with a cold, flu…hell even a hangover because you had to go to work, a family function or even to get groceries. You know the effort it takes to get dressed, spruce yourself up, put a smile on your face and be engaged in conversation with people. It ain’t easy, right? But we’ve all done it.
Now indulge me if you may and imagine doing that for 12 months. That has been my challenge for the last year. It has been important to me to try to be as “up” and engaged as I possibly can every time I have had to see or talk to anyone. There have been many times that I was smiling on the outside but crying on the inside. There is a difference between telling someone who is ill that they “look great” and challenging someone who’s sick because they’ve managed to hide it or cover it up! Most people in this world try to be kind and thoughtful but there are others that no matter what, will challenge you, criticize you and do everything in their power to bring you down. I’ve met my share of those people over the years. Not just since I’ve had cancer.
I’ve had people call me and ramble on about how many people they know who have died from cancer.
I’ve had people say things like “you’re lucky, at least you won’t have boobs that sag when you’re older.” Like that’s been my biggest worry…fu#k.
I’ve had people say “oh isn’t terrible that you’ve lost your sexuality” OR ” at least if its cold you don’t have to worry about your nipples!” I mean seriously folks, do you not think its hard enough dealing with breast cancer and a mastectomy without these stupid comments!
I’ve had a couple people stick their fingers out and polk me to see what my chest feels like WITHOUT asking!!!!!
And I overheard some people whisper that “she doesn’t look like she’s sick. Did she really have cancer?” That comment floored me the most. Do you really think I would fake this shit? I mean how incredibly insensitive and callous can someone be?!
On the flip side, I know and have met some of the kindest and most thoughtful people since I was diagnosed. I have had complete strangers reach out to me through my blog and at social events to tell me how much they admire my honesty. THAT kind of comment has not only touched me but also helped fuel me to keep pushing through the pain and difficult days that come with cancer.
Recently, I was at an industry gala event. I had struggled with what to wear and was hoping that I looked ok, when a woman I had never met came up to me and said “Girl, I just have to tell you, that you look fabulous in that dress.” I was so taken aback and so touched by the compliment that before I could even say thank you, I started crying. All the stress and self doubt that I was desperately trying to hide just came bubbling to the surface. The poor woman. She had approached a total stranger to give them a compliment and they were now sobbing. I composed myself enough to to speak and shared with her WHY, her words had made my cry. We had an instant bond. She had been the support person to her best friend who had gone through everything I was experiencing and she knew how I felt! We hugged; we laughed and I shared my story with her.
I am proud of how well I have done. I am proud of how hard I have tried to remain positive throughout the darkest days of my life.
I am proud that I have not let this disease or the negative energy that comes with it, take away my spirit.
But I think I am most proud that by sharing my story I have met or heard from so many others who are on the same journey. I want to make a difference. I want to help as many people as possible….and that is why I have put myself out there and bared my soul. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.
1 in 2 people in North America will get cancer. We all know someone or we are someone who has or had it. I am one of the lucky ones. Not because my boobs won’t sag when I’m eighty but because I survived.
You never know what might be going on with someone. Everyone goes through “stuff”. So how about we all give each other a bit more kindness; a bit more understanding. And a few more compliments. It shouldn’t matter if they are “sick” or not. If they look good, TELL THEM. It will make them and you feel better. A total stranger did that for me. In my case I was crying on the outside but I was rejoicing on the inside!
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.