For the last couple of days, I’ve been trying to figure out which of my experiences I will share with you this week. I’ve had many options in mind. The forty days I was hospitalized after I underwent a stem cell transplant, an amazing trip to Edinburgh with my crazy friends, or even the time when I was strolling around NYC with my mom and Anastasia (my sister) after a minor, but rather eventful surgery, were a few of them. A moment of excruciating pain, when I was resilient, or an instant of weakness, when I didn’t give up. The last five years seem to be full of these moments of triumph and bravery.
I remember each and every one of these incidents very clearly, as if they occurred only yesterday. At first, writing seems like it is going to be pretty easy. However, I find it very hard to put my thoughts into words. It seems impossible to write a story that will be inspiring. I don’t have any advice on the ways cancer has turned out to be an opportunity or on how I have taken advantage of my disease by making something good out of it. I cannot tell you that you will be better off, if you try to look at the bright side of life’s struggles and other inspiring pieces of information.
Days passed by, and I am still unable to write. I am disappointed at myself and I am feeling like a failure. That’s when I start whining about it to my best friend (aka Matilda).
“Sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay”, she tells me after a long Skype call.
This phrase, however logical and widely adopted it sound to most of you, has never crossed my mind until this day. This is when I figured out why I cannot tell my story this week; because ultimately, I am not okay. But my friend’s words also showed me that not being okay is acceptable. I am not feeling well and that’s totally fine. Sometimes, it’s okay not to face everything with strength and courage. It’s important to understand that admitting your limitations and acknowledging your weaknesses are an integral part of your well-being. It’s crucial to realize that you have moments of vulnerability and you should learn to excuse yourself when you are tired or weak. Giving yourself a break is liberating. In a society that only praises excellence and success, you should learn that feeling weak is not wrong or unacceptable, but rather a part of your identity.
The only thing that I feel like sharing with you today, is the negative aspect of my disease. Although I don’t want to admit it, cancer has changed my life and has left me with many scars. Visible scars, like the radiation scar on my left pelvis and the scar from the port on my chest. Neuropathy and limited concentration have been major issues that I had to deal with, since the first stages of my treatment. It has forced me to limit alcohol, running and skiing, along with other activities. It has also created invisible scars that I discover along the way. It has made me cut my vacation short and has cancelled several special occasions with my loved ones. Although it doesn’t define me, cancer has interrupted my life in many ways. Accepting it and moving on, however, is a crucial part of the fight against the disease.
Today I am vulnerable, weak and scared. And for the first time I feel comfortable admitting it. This is what I choose to share with you this week. I apologize for not being your inspiration.