The Pressure To Be "Brave"
Last updated: April 2023
"You Are So Brave!" How often have we heard this said to us? Most times, people truly mean well when they say this. They are doing their best to be encouraging from their perspective of things. However, for many of us who are surviving cancer daily, those four words are filled with so much pressure and expectation.
When people see us maintaining our lives, managing families, enduring all the craziness that comes with living with this disease, they see bravery! Well, there is truth to that. But the real truth is we are just giving our all to live every day and live our best! It takes a lot of work just to maintain our "normal" lives.
Am I a superhero?
Indeed, we are strong and courageous. We fight uncommon battles for our lives absolutely every day. However, knowing that people can see you as this 'cancer superhero' and being given this subconscious permission to be brave, #BeatCancer, #KickCancersButt, #FightLikeAGirl, and all the other awesome hashtags can be overwhelming!
We didn't choose this fight
We definitely appreciate the love and encouragement! But the reality is that some days we are just SICK! There is nothing we can do about it and to be honest, we don't even have the energy to do anything. We get weak. Not tired, but fatigued; downright exhausted! We have mood swings. We battle depression and sometimes it actually fights back...and wins! LOL!!!!
We deal with feeling isolated and alone. We are oftentimes in pain. We are in agony and it doesn't always go away. Some of us live in pain. We lose weight and we gain weight! We lose our hair, our precious hair! Until you have experienced this, you just have no idea what this does to someone. We think about our mortality more times than the average person does.
Tell me it's going to be okay!
So it's not that we don't want to be told we are brave. Here is the thing, we know living with cancer requires a special measure of bravery. We know we are brave. But it would mean so much more if we heard, "It's going to be okay", "it's ok to feel how you are feeling", or "no matter how you feel today, I will be here to help and support you!"
I think our loved ones believe they keep us strong by coaching us through this and pushing us. If they just speak positive and keep us thinking about how we "should" think then we will feel and live how we are supposed to. Please remember we are human beings with real feelings, who happen to be surviving cancer daily. Just let us be that, that's how we are Brave!
What blood cancer were you diagnosed with?