I don’t feel comfortable if people say that I am brave or inspiring. I don’t think those words apply to me.
To me, people who are brave or inspiring are doing something for someone else – making some kind of sacrifice or taking on some kind of cause or campaign.
Bravery is running into a burning building to rescue someone or donating your kidney or bone marrow to a sibling, child or friend. Bravery is where you are putting your life on the line to help someone else. I’m not doing that.
People who are inspirational to me are those who stand up for a cause, raise awareness or funding for an issue or take on ‘the system’ or ‘the government’ or are trying to make some difference in the world that may benefit them directly, but will also benefit thousands of others. People who are campaigning for equality or human rights – those people are inspirational.
All I am doing is doing what I need to do. For me. It’s really rather selfish, which is why I find words like brave and inspirational quite uncomfortable. The only ‘inspiration’ I want to be to anyone is to show that you can cope with this and you can get through this. It doesn’t have to be as scary as you imagine.
But everybody copes in their own way and I can understand why some people can go to very dark places after a cancer diagnosis. I don’t think I would cope well if I had children. That would weigh on my mind very heavily so I have empathy for those women going through breast cancer treatment while also thinking about how it is affecting their children and whether they are going to be around to support them and watch them grow up.
Chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy – they all sound like scary, serious things. But you just do them because you have to. If it can make you better, why wouldn’t you? I am not being brave. I am following a medical plan. I take each step at a time and I get through it.
Yes, I am determined and I am tenacious. Maybe that’s a better description than brave or inspirational. It’s quite boring. I get told what I need to do and I do it. I also do my own research into new treatments that might be coming in the future. I don’t have my head completely in the sand. I’m not pretending that this isn’t happening.
I think I’ve taken it on like any project that would have been given to me at work. I will look at what the ideal outcome is and work out how we get to that point, what resources are needed, and I will work damn hard to do my very best to achieve the result I need.
But there’s really nothing more than I can do than this. I listen to the medical experts who know how to treat this disease. I read and look into treatments so I am familiar and comfortable with them and have some idea of what to expect before they happen to me. I ask my doctors questions. It ain’t brain surgery and it ain’t rocket science!
Maybe I would feel different if the various treatments I’ve been given had made me sicker. Maybe then I would feel like I had made some major sacrifice. But I’ve just done them and tried to have as normal a life around those treatments as I can. That’s the main thing I want – for life to continue as normally as possible for as long as it can.
Yes, there is some urgency to get some things done, which means that life is probably not meandering at the same pace as before. So if I can be any inspiration to anyone, I would say don’t put off anything you want to do. No one knows what’s coming. Life is too short to skip dessert or to skip anything that will make you happy.