It’s OK to tell people you have cancer.
Cancer sucks. No one likes talking about it because it brings up difficult emotions like fear, pain, tragedy, hurt, shock. Frankly, it is a nightmare.
There is good chance that as you read these words, you have cancer or know someone who has cancer. And you are scared. There are a gazillion avenues of research on the internet covering all the terminology and protocols for attacking the cancer. From traditional to holistic approaches, there is unlimited information to filter through one’s brain once you are diagnosed.
Trust me, I understand. Getting my diagnosis was like being hit with a freight train. I was bombarded with questions from loved ones and friends that frankly, I could not answer.
I made a decision that helped me more than anything else I could have done.
I talked about it.
I told my family, my friends, my neighbors. I told my kids’ teachers at school, I told my church, and I even posted it on Facebook.
I was open. I showed my vulnerability and carried on with my fight in public. I wanted people to see what the battle looks like because I had never seen posts and pictures of a cancer battle before and for many in my life, I don’t think they had either. Sure, I was concerned about the possibility of this backfiring on me. I had doubts it would be pointless, that no one wants to hear about my problems. I was so wrong.
This taught me some profound truths about this world. There are people all around you, just waiting to help someone in need. They are the “givers” of this world. You don’t know they are there until you need them.
Imagine a fishing net coming out of the water. At first you only see the rope, and then as the net appears at the surface you begin to see some movement. Then suddenly hundreds of flopping fish come in to view. It is the same with your life. If you throw out a lifeline and say to people, “I am hurting, I am in trouble, I don’t know what do,” the helpers appear just like those fish coming into view as we pull up the net.
Right under the surface of your life is more support than you can imagine.
People that were mere acquaintances became my most trusted advocates and friends. Family members, who you may not always get along with, suddenly fill your life with love and hope.
I cannot urge you enough. Reach out. Call somebody. Allow yourself to be weak and helpless. Allow others to serve you.
It seems that many people put on a brave face and say to themselves, “Nobody needs to know about this. I can fight my way through this without inconveniencing anyone. Who wants to think about cancer anyway?!”
This line of thinking is completely untrue. Trust me! I just experienced it myself!
So if you are battling cancer, I challenge you today to be vulnerable. Reach out to the people around you. Looking back, I don’t know how I would have made it without the hidden blessings all around me who suddenly appeared when I said, “I have cancer. I need help.”
Yes, it does take courage but it gave me an endless line of people to reach out to. It brought hope to my journey and my spirits were lifted. The life of a cancer patient is stressful. People want to help. Lighten your burden mentally and physically. It is not selfish because all those people that give to you, you give them something bigger. Through sharing your story, people make change.
That busy mom walking with a mammogram script in her purse for the last 5 years finally calls and make her appointment. People go home and start checking their breasts and make their annual gynecologist appointment.
You are a hero. People will make changes in their life because they do not want to be the next victim, and if they are they will hopefully catch it sooner than you. People listen to us cancer fighters. You matter. This is a two way street where everyone wins when we share our stories.
by Dalanee Kennon
The Dalanee Awareness Fund
Artwork by Senay Kennon and Julia Wood
STEM+Arts program at Tatum Ridge Elementary