You got problems too?
Last updated: March 2022
There are times when I feel comfortable enough to share my diagnosis and my symptoms with someone. I’ve been treating this chronic myeloid leukemia for ten years now and often people seem surprised to see me looking ok about that. Often admitting that leads to others sharing their struggles.
No need to apologize
I listen, and in not too long, people seem ashamed. Often an apology is uttered, “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t be complaining to you of all people”. That’s just it, though. There’s really nothing to apologize for.
I’m ok with listening. We all have some cross to bear and mine is no more important than yours or anyone else’s. What is important to you may not seem as daunting as an incurable cancer, but it isn’t less than either. I have friends, colleagues, neighbors, and acquaintances who battle all kinds of chronic illnesses and disabilities on a daily basis. Some, like diabetes, can become life-threatening too.
We all have different struggles
I try hard not to compare my issues to anyone else's. We are all different in how we approach, process, and work through our challenges. Often I am astonished at how the emotions shared mirror my own even if the situations are different. I try not to compare. This isn’t a race to the bottom. There is no competition for the ruler of Pity City as far as I’m concerned.
Different problems, different diagnoses
There are times when I realize just how little I truly know about someone. Talking about my situation seems to open up conversations about the tough times we are all vulnerable to. No one is immune to those feelings of loss and confusion, pain and suffering, battling and sometimes losing. These are common across the board for all sorts of life's situations. There are commonalities to be found. The feelings are shared even if the experiences are different.
Finding common ground
There are the conversations of battles won! Those are my favorite. The personal perspectives of dire need where people stepped up to help, or a discovery was made, or a new way of living was found. Those personal experiences where a person reached deep down and found the courage to step up to the plate and hit a home run.
We’ve all got our stuff to deal with, and life isn’t always a party even if we smile through much of it. I appreciate the time to hear how other people cope and through that conversation I might find a gem of wisdom for both of us. A diamond in the rough, so to speak.
Let's listen to each other
There are things I do to help myself and if that resonates with you I feel blessed for the conversation. Sometimes it’s just good to vent and be heard. That’s ok too. There’s not always an easy answer to life’s big questions. Maybe that's the hardest part?
I think that connecting with others is part of who we are. These conversations are meaningful and worth the time. Truthfully? Sometimes our time is the biggest, most precious resource we have. Feeling heard can make everything feel a little less heavy and hard to bear. You got problems too? I hear you.
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?