Over the past year, I've shared my cancer journey with loved ones, friends and others on social media. It brought me much-needed relief to put out there what I was going through. This emotional release helped me immensely. As others read the posts, they cheered me on. They commented to let me know that I could tackle the challenges in front of me, and that they supported me.
My sharing my story through Instagram -- and some of it on Facebook was about me finding support and growing closer to my friends. It was selfish, but I also shared in order to let them know the truths about cancer so that God-willing, if they or a loved one ever has to be faced with cancer, they will know how to respond -- that they will know that they have the strength to dig deep and find the courage to face things head-on.
Many of my friends said that I had inspired them. I was shocked to hear that. Yes, I stayed positive throughout the past year and was focused on fighting cancer, but more than anything, I feared that I shared too much, or too much of the wrong thing. I once posted a photo of myself in the hours after chemo (see below). I had on a green head-covering with colorful stripes to cover my balding head, and my skin was pasty. When I look back at the photo now, I see how sick I was. But, at the time, I wanted to show how I had triumphed over the day. Despite the fact that I had sat for hours as harsh chemicals were pumped into my vein, I was still here. And I was determined to win my cancer fight.
However, I was fearful of posting the photo because I didn't want people to worry about me. I didn't want them to see how I was suffering. In reality, I am afraid of suffering, because of the pain it brings. That is why I am so optimistic. The moment I let suffering get the best of me, that is when it will have won. Of course, I have suffered while I have had had cancer. Some days have been really challenging mentally and physically. That is part of the process. Cancer breaks you down before you rebuild yourself. But I knew that if I chose to stay in a dark place emotionally, it would be harder to feel better. It would be easy to give into pain, or physical weakness. It would be harder to fight.
I knew all along that my mental attitude had so much to do with my healing, and that that the mental aspect of my fight was what I could control. I could chose to have a positive outlook and be strong, while the doctors and God healed me. I wanted to step back and let the doctors take care of the medical aspect (and pray) while I focused on my mood.
And that is where the social media posts and the conversations and texts with friends came in. They brought me support. The posts helped me share with a wider audience what I was going through and they invited people into my world. There is so much to be said about sharing in one's experience, good or bad. The posts helped me gain support, and as did the in-person conversations, phone calls and texts with friends. It all helped me realize that people were right there with me, supporting me in my fight. It has helped to fuel me in my battle with cancer.