Don't Let Anyone Steal Your Voice
When I began this journey as a lung cancer patient in 2017, I was grasping at anything that looked like hope. I was latching on to people, groups, research - anything that looked like survival. Connecting with others gave me the most hope. It was amazing to hear similar stories and learn that they were living and thriving with this disease. In the beginning, I was gung-ho and ready to be the world changer that I thought I was capable of being. I told my story to anyone that would listen often emotionally. It wasn’t until someone told me that I should stop sharing my story, that I was in denial and needed to just sit down and be quiet. I was told that my advocacy wasn’t needed nor wanted. So, guess what I did? I shut up!
My story was worth telling
You see I let an individual that likely saw something in me that I didn’t quite see in myself squelch my love of helping others and serving people. I quit sharing hope and light until I met some others on the journey that cheered for me and appreciated my story. After all, it’s my story and no two are the same. It wasn’t until I met others that truly felt my inspiration, considered my story empowering, and advised that I never quit sharing. I realized that my story was worthy to be told.
Discovering my voice
I continued sharing, but privately. When I learned of someone newly diagnosed, I would reach out to them privately. I shared hope with them. Many send messages about their loved ones that are newly diagnosed and have asked me if I would be willing to chat with them. It’s heavy at times. It takes a toll on me, but I am grateful that people trust me to share. I offer them hope. These are the actions that validate my reason to keep sharing.
Some people choose to not share their cancer journey at all. I have family members that were diagnosed with cancer and never told anyone but their immediate family. All of which is by personal choice. However, after an almost four-year journey, I know that I have a story to tell. I have hope to share. I not only can speak to the cancer patient but the woman who so badly wanted to be a mom and the womb was ripped away, I can speak to the women that battle anxiety and depression day in and day out because, I, too struggle daily, I can speak intentional living into those that feel like they are just spinning their wheels and getting nowhere in life. We all have this opportunity if we choose it.
Learning from my yesterday
Looking back, I should have kept going. I should not have let one individual squelch my voice. However, I learned from it. Today, I am ready to share with rooms full of people. I have always loved the stage from a performance aspect and acting for theatrical productions, but I have always hated public speaking, but I am ready. If I am able to help just one person, my whole purpose is fulfilled. Early in my journey, I turned down opportunities to speak in churches and women’s retreats and camps. I felt unworthy. I felt not good enough. I kept hearing that one person telling me to “sit down” and that my advocacy wasn’t needed. I might not be needed to be on the front lines of lung cancer, but I am wanted, loved, validated, and empowered within my own network. The ones that know me cherish my worth and cheer me on each and every day.
You and I were made for more
I have learned over time that hurt people will hurt people. It’s just that simple. I am grateful for this individual that attempted to take my voice because even years later - this has only given me a greater desire to share with others the raw and the real - not just the highlight reel, but the days in the trenches fighting to just put one foot in front of the other. So many are hurting. So many feel stuck. So many feel like their life is over because of a cancer journey, or infertility, or an abusive relationship, or even a mean stranger from the internet.
You and I were made for more. Nothing nor no one can squelch our voice or tell our story like we can tell our story. If you want to share your story, do so. Our journey is relatable to so many. After all, at the end of the day, I know I have a purpose regardless of the journey. So, do you.
Do you considered yourself to be a well-informed lung cancer patient?