It’s been a while since I reflected on WHY I blog; I’ve had some time on my hands of late recovering from a ’bout of ‘should-have-gone-to-the-hospital’ pneumonia, so I thought I’d share my reasons for blogging.
I blog for a few reasons:
- to infuse hope, light into places of despair, darkness
- to educate, equip, and prepare survivors of childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer for adulthood and assuming responsibility for their unique healthcare needs
- to share the realities of cancer survivorship [and] organ transplantation
- to grow, to heal
This is not my only blog; however, it is the only one that is available for public consumption. In looking at the content of my other blogs, including my CaringBridge which chronicles my heart failure, transplant, and recovery, I realized that there is a part of my lived experience that I have kept silent about.
I have rarely written on this blog about the weight, the responsibility, the guilt, and the emotional toll that walk hand in hand with cancer and organ transplant survivorship.
Why have I been silent on these topics?
Largely because I don’t like being judged an ingrate as if I could ever be ungrateful for all I’ve been gifted. Think this doesn’t happen. Well, think again; it happens more than you would believe and it hurts, deeply.
You see, each time someone responds to me voicing a valid concern on my part with a “what do you have to complain about, you are alive”, my soul is wounded.
What would you do: speak or remain silent?
If you are wondering what I call this phenomenon, I call it shaming because that is exactly what it is and I have allowed it to affect my writing to the detriment of myself and my compadres.
What most people don’t understand is that the realities of survivorship life (lifelong immunosuppression, life-threatening infections, second malignancies, heart failure, loss, grief, depression, anxiety) do NOT diminish my gratitude. These realities and a heart full of gratitude can and do coexist without one eclipsing the other.
I know this because I experience it: this day, every day.
As I move forward blogging, I want to write with more intention taking ownership of ALL the various aspects of my lived experience of cancer [and] heart transplantation. To do otherwise would be dishonest and provide an inaccurate picture of survivor life.
There are highs and lows; the are upsides and downsides. Both are worthy of consideration.
My taking ownership of all that this encompasses is the result of 8 years of REALLY difficult work; I have had to dive deep, lean in [and] persevere. I have utilized conventional methods, including psychotherapy and medical management, and I’ve utilized complementary methods like adaptive yoga and hypnotherapy. In addition, blogging, journaling, and gratitude.
I have had the benefit of support from my seemingly unflappable, husband and our incredible son; they have always wanted to see me glow, shine, sparkle, and thrive. It’s been said that it’s easy to love the light, but show me your dark. These 2 have seen my dark and they love me with a ‘no matter what’ kind of love.
I have also had the benefit of a few core women in my life who are distant runners and they have been alongside me since before my heart failure and transplant. We ‘do’ life together; we care, need, [and] sharpen one another.
Survivorship is a team sport and a solo journey.
Make no mistake this internal work doesn’t end; it’s a daily thing. I am always working towards a mental health goal as I experienced significant trauma surrounding my heart transplant all the while seeking to optimize my health and wellness.
Please know that if you struggle with similar themes, you are NOT alone. Mental health is of great import and all too often it isn’t believed much less addressed effectively. That being said, it’s okay to not be okay all the time just don’t unpack and live there.
PS Here is one of my favorite Brene Brown quotes: “If you aren’t in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” ~Brene Brown
I have no time for the critics, but for those in the arena with me, feel free to leave a comment below and/or share if you believe others may benefit from this post.