The Power of Sharing Your Story
Historically, when a person was battling cancer, it was very hush-hush. It wasn't even discussed within the confines of the person's household, let alone with others outside the household. It was rare that even close family and friends knew. There were so many misconceptions about cancer and way too much shame connected with the diagnosis.
The first time cancer impacted me directly
I remember the first time cancer touched my life. My great aunt, Dorothy, died. To this day, I'm not even sure what kind of cancer she had. I don't recall anyone discussing it while she was ill even. I live in Ohio. She lived in New Jersey. My great uncle was bringing her home to be buried with the rest of the family. I was in second grade. She was one of my favorite family members.
It still makes me sad that her story still isn't being told.
Shame and misconceptions about bladder cancer
Unfortunately, to some extent, there still exists shame and misconceptions out there about bladder cancer. The American Urological Society stated in the 2020 Fact Sheet for Bladder Cancer Awareness Month that bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the world, the 6th in the United States...still, I had never heard anyone talk about it until after I was diagnosed! That has got to change!
Making the choice to share my journey
When I received my diagnosis, after several days of careful thought and talking with some people close to me, I made the very conscious decision to share my journey, as it was happening, very candidly on social media. I felt I had no other choice but to share my story as all of it was so unusual.
Talking about my story has been freeing
What I know to be true is that sharing my story has been freeing and empowering. Not just to myself, but to others as well. Psychologists have stated the benefits of both journaling and sharing your story for decades. Keeping things bottled up inside is and has always been a detriment. However, I feel that as a cancer patient, keeping it in can be a death sentence.
Support from around the world
After I received my diagnosis, I waited about 4 or 5 days and, after calling some close family and friends, I posted a carefully worded, very specific post on Facebook. Immediately, even through tears, I felt a TON better. People from around the world supported me, held up in positivity, good vibes and lots and lots of prayers.
I'm a communicator, a writer by nature. It was a very natural thing for me to use social platforms to share and then to start my blog later. What many don't realize is that you do not need to be a professional or have any kind of writing or speaking experience to share your story.
You don't have to share publicly on social media
Sharing your story can be as simple as speaking it out loud to your family and friends. It can be making random tweets in the middle of the night in between nausea and vomiting. You can share your story by striking up a random conversation in the chemo suite with the person next to you. You can get a beautiful journal or stationery and write from your gut for yourself or by sending letters to your loved ones. Share your story in any way that moves you.
Helping yourself heal
Sharing your journey is ultimately the cornerstone of resiliency. Not only do you have the opportunity to help others by getting your experience out in the open, but you are helping yourself heal - physically and emotionally - from the battle wounds of cancer.
Your healing thrives when you let the secrets into the sunlight. Don't just survive cancer, thrive in spite of it. Share your story with others, bring awareness, and change to the disease that affects so many in such a major way!
Ready to tell your bladder cancer story?
Have you felt misunderstood as a person living with bladder cancer?