Yesterday I attended the inaugural Survivorship 101 class at Batte Cancer Center. First, let me say what an honor is was to be part of such an amazing group of men and women. Second, I’d like to thank April Carroll and her partners for an incredible job.
This was a small group of women and men of all ages, races, religious backgrounds and cancer types. We are all at different stages of our survivorship. Some were recently diagnosed for the first time, some recently diagnosed for a second, third or even fourth time. Some in the group are survivors of 1 year or less while others are 20+ year survivors. Yet, we all have many stories of trials & triumphs and sorrow & joy and all the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis.
I was able to share openly and honestly with this group, which is surprising for me. As I have said before, prior to my diagnosis I was an intently private person. The events of the past year have spurred me to be open for the sake of not burdening my children with keeping their thoughts and concerns private. I originally began blogging to keep everyone who cared about me informed of my progress. It was easier to say it once than keep making phone calls and repeating the often bad news over and over again. Eventually, the informational posts developed into opening up to some of the emotions of a cancer diagnosis and treatments. Once all that was over and I had received the “all clear” from the doctors, I have struggled finding the balance of continuing to share the emotional challenges of finding my ‘new normal’ with my return to privacy. This group was a welcomed refuge of the worry of how people will view me through the lens of the emotions that challenge a survivor after treatments are complete. For me, it has been easier to share my experience from the physical or spiritual point of view. But, trying to be open about the emotions of this journey is a little bit trickier. It’s more personal, more raw, more intimate to share those emotions. I’m very guarded of letting the whole world (via blogging) into those feelings.
And, I don’t think the whole world needs to see those things; at least not yet. There are some things better worked out within ourselves before we can share them with others. This group is a transitional place. A place where we can share openly and completely with others who know exactly what it’s like and how it feels. It’s a safe place to test the waters of truthfulness in our thoughts, feelings, relationships and struggles. Once we know we can share with people who ‘get it’ and receive encouragement and guidance then we can begin to explain with confidence and strength to others that don’t ‘get it’.
Thank you, again, April and partners for your hard work, dedication and desire to help survivors beyond their treatment. I know you have a lot of topics to cover and we didn’t make it easy for you. But thanks for giving us this amazing opportunity.
Praying and Believing…Sharing and Learning!