Move it behind the wall

I would

like to

build a

wall,

between

myself and

the ideas

of

expectations, trials, doubts, bleak realities, statistics,

or more.

On my side of the wall, the active and living side

would be

hope

and life

and wants

and the

words:

Change

and

Cure

and

Heal

and

Stable

and

Fun

and

Clear

and

Health.

No doubts

there

to cloud

my view

of

what

I want.

I would

live on

my sunny

side of

the wall.

Take walks. Make plans. Drink tea. Heal well. Love. Create.

Live in possibility.

And the

stuff

behind

the wall

would go

quiet

from

neglect,

and settle

over

time.

Like

Forgotten

Objects

in the attic.

White sheets draped over top,

covering and muting,

into quietness.

No longer

needed.

And I would face the sun.

and Be Alive in the sun.

Peacefully Happy and

healed.

Co-Survivor Award: My Mom and My MAN

Way back when I was first diagnosed and wrote a profile for myself for Bumpyboobs and FacingCancer.ca, I identified myself as a survivor. Forget dictionary definitions, I defined a survivor as someone getting up every day, facing what needed to be done, learning how to thrive through uncertain realities, and living life on their terms.

My life, my definition.

So when FacingCancer.ca recently announced their Co-Survivor Award, it made me really happy to see their definition of survivorship:

We believe survivorship begins at the time of diagnosis.

And it made me even happier to see that they’ve decided to honour those who have supported us, honouring the support they’ve given.

And surrounding every cancer survivor, there are people who care: we call them Co-Survivors. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a medical professional or an online supporter, use the form below to tell us who has made your cancer experience a little better with their selfless support.

There have been many people in my life who have helped. From friends in England, family in Canada, letters & emails from my friends during treatments, support during my crowdfunding, and the awesomeness and insight of those who get it online. But for the Co-Survivor award, if I could nominate someone (and I can’t because I work for FacingCancer.ca), it would be two someones: My husband and my mother.

Zsolt is Zsolt. You know him via this blog. He is softness and love and unconditional support. We’ve been through so much together and still we dance in the middle of the day. There’s so much to say, I really cannot begin to capture it all.

My mom, well, she’s my guide, point of reference and my friend. When I hear one thing regarding healthcare, I’ll take it to her for her opinion. And I’ll never forget how she left Canada and my dad for over a month (to sleep in our small one bedroom apartment on an air mattress in England) to help me recovering from the mastectomy – and then to help Zsolt and I weather that first terrible round of chemotherapy.

So here is the question: Who is your co-survivor, or co-thrivor, or co-awesomnesser?

award

If you live in Canada and can think of someone you’d nominate as co-survivor – then I invite you to pitch in your story over at FacingCancer.ca. Ten from the many will be chosen, and then we’ll agonize over them to land upon the first Co-Survivor recipient (but the ten will also receive goodies, too). Can you think of someone? Nominate here.

If you don’t live in Canada, and I know many don’t, but still want to share who has supported you , that’s what the comments are for ; ) People do read the comments, and they do pull inspiration from them – even folks supporting others, and needing to hear the positive impact their actions may have. Or even better – write about it on your own blog, and then link it back here. ;)

And you know what? Even if you haven’t had cancer (I hope), you may still have a co-survivor in your life, or co-supporter. I love stories about love, and about generosity, so I welcome you to leave your own reflections.

Now, that is all I have to say about that.

Except this P.S.!

P.S. I wasn’t asked or prompted to write this post for the award. I just like the idea. Everyone who does something kind for another person deserves to know their impact. This is just one really great way of saying thanks.

 

 

Lean In? Sometimes I’d rather Lean Away.

So, I have an on-again, off-again book club, and one of the books we recently discussed was Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She is the woman in that popular TED talk, which exploded into a book/movement to ‘lean in’.

lean in

The book is for women in the workplace. Or rather, it’s for women who want to excel/climb the ranks in the workplace. She is essentially looking at why we don’t have more women leaders, and a LOT of that reason, according to Sandberg’s discussion, is about children/family.

That is to say, women anticipate having children, and so they back away from work. There are other aspects, but this point is one that interests me the most. Essentially, she suggests that even before meeting the loves of their lives, women are already planning their exit strategy for motherhood. And therefore, they are less ambitious in their jobs.

Okay, I can get that. In fact, I’ve seen that actually happen.

Now why am I talking about this today? Because I’m curious about leaning in from the perspective of cancer.

Sandberg argues women should lean in so that if they do have kids, when they return from their mat leave they will be in a good position. Focusing on advancing your career is worth it for the places it will take you, and because when you come back  to work you’ll be at a higher level.So, say instead of babies you have a possibly shorter life span on your mind. Are there similarities here? Should we ‘lean in’ and create a legacy of some kind? Does that kind of stuff even matter? Why bother leaning in if the clock is officially ticking? Is the assumption of illness, change, or even death reason enough to not go for a promotion or try to rise up in a company? Better yet, those diagnosed with stage four cancer – are we more likely to lean away?

Maybe it’s a matter of time. But that’s the one massive question that cannot be answered. It could be a year, it could be twenty years, it could be . . .  well, who the heck knows?

I’ve met one woman who choose to lean away. She was counting down the days till retirement and was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Instead of retiring, she went on disability as she slid into depression. Somehow, to her, being on disability rather than being retired seems to equate to missing the golden ring. But then, I reckon the depression contributes to that perspective.  She is emotionally disconnected from joy, and that is really crap.

There are other women – younger ladies in the thick of motherhood, diagnosed with stage four and choosing to stay home. They’d rather spend time with their kids, and who is going to argue against that? That makes all kinds of sense to me. They are leaning into what matters most to them.

And then there is me. To lean in or lean away? This past autumn had me leaning in to get the book done and out. It was a very good decision, and what an experience. Also, I worked during that time too, even right after diagnosis when life was nothing but brick walls. Though to be honest, while we build Zsolt’s business I don’t have a choice whether or not to work. I must work. We need to eat and pay rent :) Retirement isn’t an option. Heck, I’m only 31! There is nothing to retire.

But even if I’m working, should I be leaning in? Should I try to grow my career or be content as it is? Is it fair to my employers if I apply & get accepted for a higher position? What if I get sick again, and their investment comes to nothing? Is it selfish to lean in? Do I even want to lean in?

With my book it is different. I like to lean in because it’s just me. Either I sell or I don’t sell. Either I create or I don’t create. No one else is impacted. But even with writing . . . well, there are these scans every few months . . . there is that constant limbo. Life itself is an emotional stop and go.

There’s a point in here somewhere . Actually, no, there isn’t a point. There is a question: Do you lean in, and what does that even mean to you after being diagnosed (or someone you love being diagnosed) with cancer? And if someone told you time was limited, would your career even remain a focus?

What do you think? Leaning in post-cancer, leaning in at stage four . . .

I lean into what I love, that’s for sure. But as for the other stuff, I don’t know. I found myself not committing and using “I had cancer, so I don’t’ want to waste my time on crap that doesn’t matter” as an explanation for that – whether or not it is a good explanation. Honestly, I’d rather write short stories that make people smile. I’d rather capture someone’s story and help them feel special. I’d rather tweet and talk and doodle and create. I’d rather feel my heart get filled up with a job very well done. And most of all, I’d rather weave stories, even if it’s not catapulting me to the top of an organization, or even a bestseller list, it’s what I prefer to do. Now with the stage four, I feel that way even more.

Though as I said, I still need to pay my bills :) And really, my dreams are much bigger than just paying bills. I want to buy property and travel and live well and realize some huge ideas that must involve success. So, despite stage four, and not knowing what the next scan will bring, I actually do want to lean in. I want to lean in on my terms and with what I love.

So that’s a little from me. Now it’s your turn:

Lean in . . . what does that mean after fighting for your life? I’d love to know.