I was asked to share my story as a survivor of cancer and stage 4 liver disease. It wasn’t a difficult thing to do- I’ve told my story several times- what was difficult for me were all the comments after. I’ve never been someone who accepted compliments well.
You’re such an inspiration!
You’re so strong. You are a warrior!
I wish my patients were advocates too!
I’m I really an inspiration? I work with and support cancer patients who’ve been fighting to live for years longer than me. I don’t necessarily feel strong or warrior-like. I’ll admit the uncertainty of my disease has gotten the best of me from time to time. And self-advocacy – even for a 15 yr lung cancer advocate- did NOT come easy when it came to advocating for myself with my own disease. Those first 6 months I was lost in the medical system and had no idea what I was doing. Living with chronic or late stage disease is a process that you are forced to get used to and every experience is different.
So, I just smiled and thanked everyone. Later at home I thought about all the things that would make a person an inspiration, strong, and empowered.
I don’t think someone is an inspiration simply because they survived a disease. If you were a passive patient who survived thanks to your medical treatment and team- well- you’re just lucky. Count your blessings every day!
Someone who takes their experience and survivorhood and informs, supports and/or empowers others- is an inspiration and inspires others.
If you went to every scheduled doctor’s appointment, test, treatment and scan- following your healthcare providers plan for you- you’re not necessarily a “strong” person. If you did all of those things while caring for children, holding down a job, supporting others or against some other sort of personal adversity- you are indeed a pillar of strength.
A patient who complains about situations and exhibits anger towards others- isn’t an advocate. It’s the patient who identifies unmet needs and works towards meeting them. The squeaky wheel may draw some attention but you still need to drive that car over the finish line.
Do you have the strength to inspire and advocate for others?