What's your Strong?
I recently spoke at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event of Lyon County as the Survivor Ambassador. I was honored to be chosen to represent cancer survivors. I wanted to share my speech with you.
I would like to thank the Lyon County Relay For Life for honoring me as this year’s ambassador. I’m also grateful to be able support such an amazing organization as the American Cancer Society .
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March 2019. After surgery and six rounds of chemo, which I completed August 2019, I have been in remission. Though I have one year down, with ovarian cancer, they do not consider you cured until you have reached your 5th year with no reoccurrence. So, my journey continues.
You go through many emotions when you are told “you have cancer,” it’s not the words anyone chooses to hear, but many people hear those words never the less. Though my journey was only a year ago, everything remains fresh in your mind. So fresh that the slightest ache sends your radar into over drive. Channeling those emotions is an on-going battle, but with support you can learn to live with that.
I am so fortunate to have amazing support from my family, friends, co-workers and community. Time and time again they have been just what I need when I needed it. They all say I was strong, but I believe my strength comes from their support.
There is a quote that comes to mind,"
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
Strong is different for everyone…..it comes down to each individual. As cancer is unique, so is each person’s strong.
Strong is putting everything in God’s hands – After meeting with my oncologist for the first time and was told all the “possibilities” that could happen, it was the first thing I did. It gave me such peace and strength. I was able to focus on me, since I knew that God was handling everything else.
Strong is family, friends and community – The continued support from family and friends is what gets you through the tough days. Many times, the weight of cancer would be on my mind and I would open the mail box to find a card from a friend or family. It always felt like I was fighting this with a whole team behind me. You can be out in the community and someone will stop you and tell you they are praying for you, that’s the bonus of living where we do.
Strong is accepting help – The American Cancer Society has so many resources for people on their cancer journey. Just using their website to look up questions or concerns, knowing that the information is accurate and so beneficial. Use their 800 #, ask the questions, they are here with help with resources and support.
Strong for me is a pair of earrings – I always encourage people to do you what you can each day to feel the best you, you can be. For me that was putting effort into how I look, even on days when I didn’t leave my house. Losing all your hair isn’t easy, but you adjust. You learn to embrace new things, like colorful head wear or a great pair of earrings. It’s so important to look in the mirror each morning with confidence before you walk out the door, it can make such a difference in how you view your day.
Strong is doing things you use to do, just in a new and different way – yes you are never the same after a cancer diagnosis, but somewhere into your new journey you learn to adjust and embrace the new you.
Strong is giving back – when you have the chance, give support to others that are on their own journey. The understanding of what someone is going through could be just what someone needs to hear. If it only helps even one person, it was worth the effort. At the beginning of the year I started a website called “Stylin Cancer” which shows people going through hair loss during chemo, how to style their outfits with their head wear. It’s my chance to give back.
Strong is believing – believe in yourself, every day. Believe in your treatment team, mindset is so important. Relax your shoulders, take a deep breath, you’ve got this and you can do this.
Strong is being scared – yes, we get scared, take one day or one hour and be scared, but then let it go. Then focus only on what each day brings.
Strong is being in control – We try so hard to be in control, I think because the cancer diagnosis is out of your control, so we will try to stay in control of many aspects of our cancer journey. But, don’t let that control be your main focus, you need to relax at times and let things be what they will be.
Strong is believing that God has a purpose for you and now is the time to do what you always dreamed you could do. – keep believing and striving to reach your goals and dreams. When you cross something off your list, add a new one to look forward to.
Strong is listening and being listened to – you are not the only one in your circle of support that may be having a hard time adjusting to your diagnosis. Have the conversation, make sure everyone is on the same page. I encourage you to be as open as possible about everything going on with your cancer. When people understand they can be better at providing support.
Strong is choosing joy – Each new day is a gift and how we choose to open that gift is important. Tell yourself to smile, have a positive attitude, keep up the mindset that your day is going to be great.
Strong is respect – respect that everyone’s journey is different, even people that aren’t going through cancer. We are here to support one another, not judge.
Strong is determination – Your mind and body can do powerful things. Be focused on what you can do to improve them. Gain knowledge, make changes and take care of your body the best you can.
Strong is independence – do things your way. Do your research, have a say in what’s best for you.
Strong is reaching out – if you need help or maybe you see someone that needs help. Don’t be afraid to ask for what is needed or seek answers for something you don’t understand. Share your experience so someone else may benefit from your knowledge.
Strong is kindness – not just kindness to other people, but kindness to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend, sometimes we are hardest on ourselves and that doesn’t help with anything.
Strong is the American Cancer Society – They will not stop until they find a cure for cancer. Imagine a world free from cancer, they are here for you and they need continued support in making it a reality.
What is your strong?
Just for today I want you to think about everything you are, you are strong in so many ways and now is your time to show it.