How and when do you tell someone new about your cancer history?
Yea. This topic has taken me to many uncomfortable zones, levels beyond my normal. This changed once I put myself in many of those uncomfortable zones.
It all started with a lack of information upon my diagnosis. This led me to social media. I was looking for any support, help and info that I possibly could since my pregnancy cancer (choriocarcinoma) is considered rare. This rarity sent me to be becoming an awareness advocate. I created Facebook support groups and an awareness page. I freely share my cancer story, my journey, recovery and more intimate details of the hardships I've faced.
But this wasn't enough and I had to do more of one-on-one sharing. I became involved in the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life. How could I get my cancer story out there? Speaking to individuals worked but was too time consuming with so many participants. I then came up with creating my awareness flyer; a nicely folded flyer saying what I wanted to say that got the point of education across. I created awareness cards, later adding my newly created website. It was the all in one info mini packet.
I carry these everywhere I go, always making sure I have at least a few on me. I pass them out at Relay for Life events, doctors offices, waiting rooms, hand them out to random people in my everyday tasks, you name it.
I speak my story to crowds at Relay events and many always come up to me for more detailed information, questions and comments, making it a more intimate environment.
Pregnancy is another great topic of introduction for my cancer type, taken with caution. This is a harder area to poke and I had mixed feelings. I feel the conversation out first before speaking. I don't want to scare the expectant mom, but only educate her.
Believe it or not, Instagram Yoga challenges are one if the last things I have incorporated to help spread my awareness. Since yoga has helped me with recovery following chemotherapy, it is another part of my story. I was very hesitant to expose this side, but with the strong encouragement of my husband, I took his advice. Since doing this, I've reached more people, connected with similar survivors, and gained followers.
Last but not least, I tell others my history with cancer boldly & coldly. I am most uncomfortable with this way of telling but have done it. I have handed my awareness flyers to random people, saying no words at grocery stores, parking lots, parks, etc. Hand it, smile, and walk away. I've said something along the lines of, "Here's an awareness flyer for my type of rare cancer." This helps at least crack that thick ice. It always stops people in their tracks, especially since I always have my daughter, the surviving twin of my complete twin molar pregnancy, which turned into choriocarcinoma placental cancer.
Sharing my story was very hard and brought on more anxieties, but it has helped me heal. Think of it as a support group but you're leading the class at your own comfort - whether it be behind closed doors, a computer, or a podium. Sharing your story is advocating, supporting, educating and caring for others. It can even be inspirational. Any way it's done, share your story. Be proud of it.
How do you choose to share your cancer story? Tell us in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.