Since diagnosis I have been told that I am brave what feels like hundreds of times. I accept the compliment, but on a day when we celebrate all of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, the adjective falls flat in relationship to my cancer.
Let’s look at the definition;
Brave brāv/ adjective 1. ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.
Ok right off the bat I have a problem with ‘ready to face’. I was not and am not, ready to face cancer. Nope. Not at all. Is anybody? Is there anyone out there who is training for the day that they get diagnosed? Were there calisthenics I was supposed to be doing?
I also missed the ‘ready to…endure’ cancer seminar. Was that a high school level course? I’m sure I didn’t see it as a requirement for my double major in Modern Dance and Italian at the University of Colorado, Boulder (I know what you’re all wondering, those two disciplines have come in super handy in real life…).
The truth is, I in no way shape or form feel ready to endure cancer. So far it sucks pretty bad. Case in point, I suddenly have a red rash all over my body today. I had no interest in paging the on-call doc and disturbing him on a holiday, but enduring, denotes follow-through so it had to be done. (For anyone interested, the doc thinks the red rash is a delayed reaction to antibiotics, but I just see it as my body being patriotic).
Maybe I have shown some courage, but have I had a choice? I suppose it could be considered courageous to go through a bilateral mastectomy, but the other option was doing nothing and eventually succumbing to disease. Not really a choice.
I have also been told that I am courageous for writing so candidly in this blog. My response to that is merely that I lack boundaries, have a diarrhea of the mouth problem and show some borderline narcissistic qualities. I enjoy being heard which is neither brave nor courageous. Just sort of selfish.
Bravery is earned by action. Bravery is a result of choice. Our servicemen and women have made the decision to valiantly sacrifice themselves for the rest of us lazy sacs. They are brave. I am just a girl who got cancer and is following standard protocol to put it into remission.
Cancer chose me. That makes cancer the brave one.
8 Comments Add yours
Brave the way implies foolhardiness like running into a cannon or some shit. That’s for hussars. What you are is badass. Shit happens but you abide, man.
Err accidentally a word. Meant to say “brave the way many use it”.
Some people questioned my openness about my cancer, recurrence, treatments, and my near-death experiences four years ago. But I got responses from people all over the world thanking me for the information I provided on my blog. I wish that I had had a blog like mine to read……I was totally in the dark, despite having gone through my mother’s cancer with her. It was like cancer, chemo, radiation, etc were a huge secret!
When I think of all the things that I was NOT told, it is hard to believe!
BTW, I had one of those rashes….mine was a systemic reaction to that stuff they splash on you before surgery to cleanse the surgical field. Only thing that helped were steroids.
Best wishes to you. Just do not feel the need to stay cheery. If you feel like shit, just express it. You do not owe it to anyone to be positive. And there is no proof that positiveness makes one damn bit of difference in a cancer outcome.
No one can take the “you” out of you – That is fortunate. It is why we all love you. Louise and Andy
I don’t know you, and I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog, but I love it. And I loved this post.
I am going to through something somewhat similar, and every time someone tells me how brave I am, I kind of want to punch them in face. I mean I appreciate the positive comment, but it’s just plain untrue. If I didn’t go through with treatment and do the things I have to do, I would just die. So is desperately doing everything I need to do to stay alive brave? Isn’t is just the logical thing to do?
Anyway, my point is that I am happy someone else out there feels the same way I do. And I’m happy that you are sharing these thoughts and feelings so that other people, like me, can read them. I really wish you didn’t have to go through all of this, but if it helps at all, please know your humor and candid stories are consistently a bright spot in my day.
I’ve just started reading your blog. My cousin sent it to me bc I am currently going through chemo for breast cancer. I’ve got surgery coming up, so it was good to read this part and help me mentally gear up for it. I can’t wait to get to the chemo part of your blog. It fucking sucks. I don’t feel brave not one little bit, I feel like a fucking coward every time I hysterically lose my mind from the lack of sleep that is a result of not being able to get over constantly smelling the poison in my nose and tasting it in the back of my throat. I feel it coursing through the veins in my head and this throbbing headache makes me feel like shit all day. I cry always, and I’m pretty sure that’s not brave. So thank you Grace (my daughter’s name), you and your blog are making me feel better, simply by not trying to be uplifting or make me feel like I’m actually courageous in some way.
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You are not a coward! You are a human! You are in it right now. No two ways around it, it blows hard. I am less than 6 months out and I feel sort of normal again. You will get here. One, shitty, day at a time my friend.
I’m only seeing that you responded to me right now. Dang. Am re-reading your blog bc I’m two weeks out of BL mastectomy with immediate reconstruction with silicone titties. We’ve got the same cancer team at NorthShore so it’s oddly comforting to know exactly what you’re talking about with the scarlet letter armbands going into Kellogg, as they branded me again today for my post op check up. Unfortunately still chillin hard with my new BFF squad, Left Drain and Right Drain. I must thank you again for prepping me for this in a way none of our doctors could, and making all of this a little more tolerable. Thank you.