I’m sometimes reluctant to share the vulnerable side of living with a CML diagnosis because I never want to be portrayed as a sympathetic figure. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or for the things I have to go through. A lot of people have it way worse than I do and I would never want to take anything away from them or the injustice in this world. I know that kind of thinking is more illogical than not on a smaller scale, but sometimes it’s difficult to walk across that tight rope. I don’t want to lean too far one way and rely on others and I also don’t want to fully rely on my own abilities to figure it out as I go. So I decided to write about it and be as real and open as possible. I know so many other people who love somebody that is living with a cancer diagnosis or who will one day be diagnosed. I won’t be able to do much besides tell my story the best way that I can. If that helps one person to be as real and authentic with their life as I am with mine then maybe one day they can pay it forward and be a bigger influence than I can be.
My purpose is two fold:
- It always helps to write out my frustrations. I’ve never really been able to hold anything that I’m feeling in. I’m a little introverted, but I’ve always let others know how I feel about things, whether it be good or bad. When I found out I had leukemia, I admit that I didn’t always do this because I didn’t want my family to have to change the way that they lived. You have a fear of being the burden that brings everyone else down, whether it be financially, emotionally, physically, etc. Because of that, I was eventually living as if I didn’t even have an illness. I rarely talked about it with my family and never really told them about the emotional and financial toll that it played on my life. I just tried to deal with it the best that I could. Talking about it, whether it be in a blog, or with someone you love (or both) helps with the things that don’t make a whole lot of sense. It transfers the process of internally dealing with those frustrations to getting it out and allowing yourself an opportunity to organize your thoughts in a productive way. I spend way less time being frustrated about something when I feel like I can complete the process of being frustrated about it. Then I have no other option but to move on and figure out how to best embrace that emotion so that it works for me and not against me. I swear I’m not trying to sound like Oprah or Dr. Phil.
- As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, I hope that people can start making themselves vulnerable again. This is a cruel world. So many people have closed off their lives to a select few, all in an effort to appear “strong”, “invulnerable”, or “confident”. We have created a society in which those terms have been hijacked of their true meaning and been supplanted with a superficial idea of what those things are supposed to look like. One of my all time favorite books is Tuesdays with Morrie. In it, a student spends every Tuesday with one of his mentors who is diagnosed with a terminal illness, learning about life and what is truly important. Morrie had an impact on my life simply because of the process of his wisdom and his willingness to be vulnerable. He was humble, believed in living life, developing relationships, being true to who he was. Naturally, that stuck with me and I made a decision to be real to myself and to my convictions. I always learn more from people who share with me their mistakes or make themselves vulnerable than I do from those who pretend to know it all. I wanted to do that on a smaller scale. I have a little megaphone, but this is where it is. I hope it can be used.
CML sucks. I would rather not have to deal with this illness. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But as of right now, this is my paradigm. I have to embrace it, so I will. My hope is that it doesn’t lend myself to any sympathy, because this is my story, and I choose to live it the best that I can. It’s like the reverse lottery. I’m going to get to meet so many people and be in so many unique situations because of it. This blog is about embracing the process. I hope it encourages, helps, inspires, motivates. That, to me, is worth the feeling of vulnerability.