I must preface this message by saying I don’t really mean this title to be taken literally, though I do feel strongly about it as it relates to me personally.
As you are aware, RealTime Cancer lost another very special person a short while ago in Krista Hong. I wrote to you then to inform you of Krista’s passing, and I said that I really didn’t believe she would die. I haven’t felt that way–this way–before, and I’m still working through what it means to me.
Last week, as I was playing with this situation in my head, I remembered one of the early lessons I learned once I entered the world of “cancer patient.” The lesson was that much of the time there’s no magic to what I do, or how I approach my challenges; most times the most significant thing I do for other people is just be here. Breathing, living, thriving sometimes, that can be the most powerful experience for another: to see someone who has travelled this crazy, incredible, and terrifying road of dealing with cancer, and to see that they have come out on the other side. When you’re facing your challenge, knowing there’s at least one other who’s made it through matters.
I know as well as anyone that we all don’t come out on the other side. I really felt Krista would. I sat with myself last week and was thinking about those early days and how many times I’ve had the opportunity to inspire, shock, and amaze others by simply still being here. The fact that I’m still here after the road I’ve travelled can be extremely powerful for another who is now facing some of the similar challenges I have. It was those thoughts that lead me to the title of this message.
We have a responsibility to share. If you’ve made it through to the other side, you have a responsibility to share. And by “the other side,” I’m not talking necessarily about hitting the five-year mark–the elusive thing still waits for me–but I’m talking about the other side of a challenge: getting a Hickman catheter; first round of chemo; radiation; dealing with a jackass doc or nurse, or patient; or challenging the bureaucracy of the healthcare system. Whatever it is, there’s a responsibility to share, for me.
I know that sharing isn’t for everyone, but I think it would be great if we all did. I’m not talking about getting your face on the front page, but I am talking about sharing some of the experiences you’ve had and the knowledge you’ve gained from facing your challenges.
I feel this way largely because I have seen the impact my experiences have had on others. I’m not even really talking about teaching here, more sharing. Just letting others know that the seemingly impossible happens, even that the impossible can happen. And when you see a real-life example of the impossible, then you’re able to believe in it that much more.
RealTime Cancer has recently begun an active pursuit for young people (15-30 years) who are–or were–cancer patients or supporters of patients. We want them to share their story. It is something so simple and it is something that can make a huge impact on one another. As I said, sometimes just knowing that another has done the seemingly impossible makes it feel that much more doable.
You all had the chance to meet Krista Hong through the RTC Portal and you got to see what an amazing person she was, how thoughtful, open, and driven. You had that wonderful experience of connecting with a truly special person because she shared. These thoughts, as they often do, just come to me. There isn’t necessarily much rhyme or reason here. I encourage you to share, that’s all. When the opportunity presents itself, and it will, share your challenges, however you are comfortable. Reach out and connect.
Live life. Love life.