At our monthly team meetings, one of our crew members discusses one of our five values: strength, courage, commitment, heart, and trail-blazing. This is Lesley’s reflection from this month’s meeting.
It is difficult to be strong. Over the years, I have seen many strong survivors — young adults who stare cancer in the face and say “fuck you” as well as others who quietly lift their jaw, square their shoulders and “tough it out.” All of these individuals are strong.
However, I didn’t know how difficult it actually is to be strong sometimes. Just before returning to work from maternity leave this fall, I had some personal health issues. Luckily for me, everything turned out to be fine, but for two weeks, there was a flurry of activity on the medical front with doctor appointments and tests. From the time I told my doctor my symptoms to the time I had tests to rule everything major out, only two weeks had passed. Everyone was concerned and my mind went to the worst possible case. For me, that was not being here to see my young children grow up and to not be allowed to grow old with my husband.
While I only had to face two weeks of the “unknown” before finding out I was fine, they were the hardest two weeks I have faced in a very long time. I would have to be “strong” when I was with my kids. I’d have to say “Oh, it’s no big deal” to my family when telling them about my tests. I even felt that I had to be carefree when with my husband. But, on the inside, every time I looked at my husband or kids, I wanted to cry. I did many times — alone — over those two weeks.
Whoever I was with, I felt I had to be strong, and it was exhausting.
As I mentioned, my health scare was just that; a scare. I was very lucky that everything worked out for me, but for those two weeks, I was in the same shoes as our survivor community — the dark side of limbo. I hope this is the closest I will ever get to a diagnosis of anything that serious again, but I know that for our survivor community, their story and “need for strength” continues for much longer than two weeks.
Strength helps get you through it, but don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and to open up to those you trust; there is strength in that, too.
YACC itself remains strong for our young adult community, and we work hard to ensure we remain that way for the young adults yet to be diagnosed. While staying strong can be exhausting, when you look at those you are staying strong for — like me for my young family and like YACC for our family of young adults — the motivation is there and we continue flexing our muscles.