Actually, to be more specific, I have cancer again.
I was first diagnosed in 2015. At that time, I didn’t want anyone to know. It felt like I had failed or lost. It was a weakness. I was even afraid some people might be happy that it was happening to me. Ultimately, when I was finally cancer-free in 2017, I didn’t want to tell anyone because it was nice to pretend it never happened.
I’ll be honest, I was especially fearful of sharing my diagnosis with my blog followers. Over the years I’ve received countless messages from anonymous people wishing cancer on myself and my family. I thought those same people would celebrate that I had cancer and somehow weaponize it against me.
A lot has changed since that initial diagnosis. I’ve changed. I’m stronger than I was before. I’m also more compassionate and empathetic. I understand the importance of supporting and lifting up the people around me. I don’t take anything for granted. I try to live in the moment, enjoy where I’m at, and appreciate all the blessings in my life. I’m definitely a better person.
By hiding my story and hiding my experience, I haven’t let people see the best parts of me. I also haven’t allowed the people in my life show the best of themselves.
Toward the end of that journey in 2017, I (literally) ran into a slogan. Be brave. It didn’t feel like a coincidence. So I latched onto it, even when I didn’t feel it. But since then, it’s become my personal motto. It’s how I evaluate big decisions. I don’t live in fear, I make choices from a position of strength. No matter what life throws at me I’ll face it with bravery, not fear.
It takes a lot of bravery to share any of this, but right now I need it. Because I have cancer again. A few weeks ago I underwent a major surgery to remove it. I’m recovering well. But now I need further treatment to make sure it never comes back again.
I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly hard it’s been to go through this during a global pandemic. No one can come to my doctor’s appointments. Mom was allowed to see me for 10 minutes after surgery (not that I remember the encounter). I then spent four days in the hospital alone. To keep us all safe, I had to stay apart from the people who loved me through the first time.
But that experience made me realize that hiding this journey from everyone was unnecessary and, quite frankly, a bit absurd. I wholeheartedly believe most people are good. There’s nothing more encouraging than seeing how selfless and kind people are. And, honestly, the more love and support I receive the better I can handle it.
I also know that cancer can feel incredibly isolating, even when your family and friends shower you with love and support. So if sharing my story reaches even one person going through this, or even something else, then it’s worth it. You are not alone.
Oh, by the way, if you’re the type of vile, disgusting person that would use a cancer diagnosis against someone, I pity you. Because I can’t imagine living life without the love and kindness that stops you from delighting in other people’s difficulties. Love, compassion, and empathy make for a rich and rewarding life.
I’m not ready to share all the gory details yet (quite frankly, I’ll probably never be ready). But this time, no matter what happens, I’m going to be brave enough to let people in. I’m going to share this journey with my readers. I’m going to soak in all the prayers and love and support. And in a few months I’m going to share the victory of free-from disease with you, too.
Most importantly, through all of it, I’m going to Be Brave.