The Power of Sharing
I recently had a friend whose brother learned that his leukemia had returned for a third time. He has AML, and now his only course of treatment will be a bone marrow transplant. My friend asked me about my experiences with a BMT, but I could only share my experiences leading up to it, as I, up to this point, have been lucky enough to avoid one.
I shared some resources and told her about the column of a young adult leukemia survivor named Suleika Jaoaud, a New York Times ‘Well’ columnist who’s documenting her journey through life after a bone marrow transplant. She’s an inspiring person who captures the vulnerabilities of cancer extremely well.
I’m thankful when survivors choose to share their experiences with others. It’s a very difficult thing to do at times. Expressing vulnerable thoughts, feelings, and concerns are contrary to what the world would have you believe is normal. If it were, everyone would do it, and procedures such as bone marrow transplants and intravenous chemotherapy would be less scary and intimidating.
That was the purpose of sharing my story. I struggled with it a lot. In fact, sometimes I still do. But I grew up in a family that rarely communicated emotions, concerns, fears, or worries. I saw how internalizing those aspects of life affected relationships and created mystery where it shouldn’t have existed. I began my cancer journey with the mindset that, I too, would internalize my voice, and it affected me negatively for years.
After my cell mutation diagnosis, I was determined to grow as a person and learn how open communication could be used as an asset for myself and for others who were like me. I’m thankful that I did, and I’m grateful that Katie, my fiancee’, continued to push me in that direction. It may have played a large role in the state of reaching remission.
If you’re struggling with the effects of cancer, my advice is to read the story of those who’ve made themselves available. You’ll identify with many of the same frustrations, feelings, humor, etc. And that can only help you along. It will make you feel less like the world is stacked against you. After all, in the end, we’re all in this together.
If you haven’t already, check out Suleika’s blog: Life, Interrupted.