Your Healing Path, Not Mine
Last updated: February 2023
I recently met with a fellow survivor who wanted to chat and pick my brain. She has chosen not to share much about it publicly and respectfully chooses to deal with it in their own way. She also shared that she would have preferred if others didn't give unsolicited advice. (I hear that!) She didn't want people sending her things either and feeling bad for her.
She was recently feeling bad for processing her diagnosis the way that she was. All of a sudden, she was worried about other people's feelings. I reminded her that how she was approaching this situation was perfect.
Perfect for you
It was perfect for her and how she needed to share what she was going through or what she didn't need to share. She said, "Sometimes you feel bad not sharing with people." She was just too in the weeds to be able to worry about other people.
She was able to tell family and friends easily in the beginning that she needed this time for herself and that she would tell her own story when ready. She let them know that she needed space, and she set her boundaries.
I think so many of us wish we did or could do that in life.
It is hard, but I am proud of you
I told her I was so proud of her. It's so hard to say what you need. And what you need can be anything or nothing at all. And that's okay. She asked me how I was so brave and shared so much of my life with people over the years.
When I got sick, I had no resources. I couldn't find anyone to talk to about what I was going through besides a few close friends, but no one had dealt with my type of cancer before. Ovarian cancer is so rare and, luckily, impacts so few, but that doesn't mean it's not any less scary.
It's called balance
When I got sick, I made a decision that if someone had questions, I would be willing to answer them.
I'm an open book, and sometimes I shut the door and close off the world. It's called balance. Not one approach is better or worse than the other.
What I am comfortable with or what you're comfortable with are our choices. What you can and need and want to share with the world is a choice, not a requirement.
It's been 7 years
I'm 7 years past my diagnosis, and I am grateful for all those that have shared before me. I have shared a lot over those last 7 years. Probably sometimes too much. I know by opening up myself to the world and raising my hand and saying, "I have cancer," I opened a door for others.
Then I got to say I beat cancer. I am surviving. I am working to thrive and define my life after cancer. In doing those things, I've been able to open myself up and allow others, like my friend, to reach out to me. She could ask me questions, and I would help her get answers in a time of uncertainty.
I'm glad I've been able to be a place where people feel comfortable reaching out. I hope I am a little bit of a safe haven to express their feelings and ask really hard questions. One of the most complicated questions she asked me was, "Does this get easier?"
Yes, it does get easier
I had to think about it for a minute. Ultimately my answer is yes. This has gotten easier for me. This has gotten easier for my friends and my family. Some days I forget I even had cancer at all.
This doesn't mean that everything hasn't been hard. I still have days that are just as difficult as those in the beginning, and I struggle to process where I am.
I've become better equipped to be able to handle those days.
However that looks for you
However you decide to share or not share your story, it's okay. Just remember, someday you will be on the other side of this really hard space.
Some days will be better than others, and some days will be worse than others. Either way, remember that this is your process and your time to heal - however that looks for you.
Please don't forget that how your healing process goes is not going to be the same as someone else's, and that's okay. Just remember to respect each other's decisions and how they have chosen to move forward.
Have you heard of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer?