March 25, 2016


I did leave you hanging a little--I got a message yesterday that all my pathology from everything that they removed was clear.  Clear.  As in no little itty bitty cancers, no precancerous cells.  So there's a sigh of relief.  I missed the phone call, and as I went to listen to the voicemail message, my hands were shaking--I was successful at putting it out of my mind until that moment, and I have no idea what I would have done had it not been fine.  Well, maybe I have an idea, but I didn't want to create that Plan B until I had to.  Again, I have a lot of processing to do to know what "all clear" means to me.

There's something I've been meaning to say to y'all, but I don't know if I can phrase it quite the right way.  After my last couple of posts, I get comments and feedback, all very loving and supportive.  Thank you so much for that.  There was part of me that was having a gut reaction to some of that; specifically the comments that talk about me being an "inspiration" or "brave."  I was ready to reject that because it's uncomfortable.

What I did when I got my cancer diagnosis was what anyone facing a hard situation does: find a way to get through it.  It's such a selfish focus, and there's nothing about it that felt heroic in any way.  It's pure, basic survival instinct--I did not save anyone or help anyone else with my journey, and I asked a lot of those around me to get through it.  And I blabbed about it and overshared here, and again there's a very selfish instinct behind it--to be recognized and be loved by others.  Getting comments and feedback and people to read my stuff and "likes" was all a very me-focused thing and I was not above it.  Still not, apparently!

So when people used those words in the feedback, there is a part of me that balks at that because I know my own insecure motives behind it.  I would feel guilty for not saying something about it.  And there is also the feeling out there in the survivor community that it becomes almost a novelty or fetish to make so much of survivor status when a lot of us don't feel worthy of always wearing that badge.  Some of it, I think, is the unease we will always carry with us that we are never out of the woods; some of it, I think, is feeling like it's a weird thing for which to get recognition.

But then...there's a part of me that had to say that I don't get to define what makes people feel inspired or how they define bravery.  I have to feel comfortable with just feeling honored any time somebody associates me with that, that it stokes something in them.  I have to hope they are as generous with words like that to other people in their life.  Knowing the awesome people in my sphere, I am assured that you sprinkle it around generously.  But I'm going to say it anyway: use it liberally.  Tell other people when they make you feel inspired or embolden you to do something--it may mean more to them than you ever may know.

And I guess sharing of yourself and your experience can be meaningful to others, too.  It helps create a sense that we are in it together.  This may be more than a sophomoric creative writing exercise after all, if other people get something along the way.  So I'll close today with Fred, and another thank you.

Fred Rogers (also known as Mister Rogers), once said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” 

Thank you.


Unknown said...

Jenny- You're not awesome because you are a survivor. You are awesome because no matter what I have done to help you, you've given back to me and then some. Just effortlessly being generous like you are. Thank goodness you are all clear.

Unknown said...

From Sonja