Being Brave

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lately, I have been struggling with the word brave. I have heard many times over the last few months how brave I am or how strong I am or how people admire how I am handling this unfortunate siutation. While I appreciate the compliments, I am not sure I agree.

They did not give me a new set of powers when they told me I had cancer. No one was like "you have cancer and here are these characteristics you will need to get through it". There's no super suit or magic spell or anything I have taken to become any different. I guarantee that anyone thrown into my position would be doing the exact same thing I am. I did not become a new, more brave person overnight. I don't think I am any braver than I used to be at all.

Sure, getting blood drawn no longer seems like such a big deal. Getting a cavity filled at the dentist with those horrible mouth numbing shots (that I used to think were the worst thing ever!)? Didn't even flinch. They need to insert an IV or access my port? Go right ahead. Anything that doesn't give me horrible nausea and weird mouth pain sounds like a walk in the park. I guess I have become "braver" in that sense. But I don't feel any different than I did before.

I think that everyone is brave. I don't think it takes terrible things to make people brave. I think getting up each day and living is brave. Think about it, no one knows what the day holds. You simply go through the day as you think you should, but at any moment something massive could change. I don't say that to scare anyone, but it is true. Everyday we get up and live. That is brave. Facing a new day whether you have cancer or just a scary math test is brave. Life takes bravery. I can almost guarantee that if anyone of you reading found yourself in a situation like mine (and I pray you don't), you would see I am not handling this like some kind of pro. I am simply handling it because I don't have the choice not to.

I have bad moments. Lots of them actually. There are some days where I literally have to convince myself to get out of bed. I cry. I get angry. Like really, really angry. I cannot tell you how much I don't want to do this. I have never not wanted to do something as much as I don't want to go back to the hospital tomorrow. I don't want to spend 8 hours next Monday and Tuesday getting chemo. I really don't want to spend the entirety of next week in my bed throwing up. I want my hair to come back. I don't want this stupid port in my chest. I don't want to have leg surgery. I am so angry that I did not get a choice in any of this.

The popular saying is that you get a choice when in how you handle unfortunate situations. You can choose to keep going or choose to curl up in a ball and stop. I never felt like I had a choice to make. I am not saying this to say I am any better than anyone else, I think most people who have found themselves in really crappy situations would say the same thing. In fact, one of my best friends who has been dealt a lot of her own very crappy cards agreed with me. There was never a moment where I was like okay I am choosing not to spend everyday in my bed. I don't know why, but I just never had a moment like that. I kind of just figured that life had to go on in someway. It is different, but it still had to go on. Maybe some people do. I honestly wasn't really given a choice to be brave. I was forced into this situation and I did not like the other options, so here I am.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that while yes I received very, very crappy news, it was not the worst news ever. In fact, it is so far from it. I have great doctors, an otherwise healthy body, lots of support, and options. Many people do not have these things. I think the reason people are able to be happy when it looks like they have reason not to be is because you start to cling to the things that you do have. I have so much more than I do not have. There is still so much good in my life that it would be silly for me to spend the majority of my time focusing on the bad (plus cancer doesn't deserve that much attention!). It is like your shift automatically changes to focus on all the stuff that isn't the bad stuff (or at least mine did). Not to say you have to go through a crappy situation to gain appreciation, but I really do think stuff like this opens your eyes to appreciate all the good things in life just a little bit more.

I guess my point is that we are all brave. Cancer does not make me any more brave than any of you. I wish I could tell you there was some secret into how I am handling all of this, but there isn't. I am simply doing what it takes to get through each day and get to the end of this damn "journey". If that makes me brave, than I guess I'll accept it, but it isn't anything anyone else couldn't do. I am not saying that all bravery is equal by any means. I think there are times when brave takes on a whole new meaning, but then again, maybe those people don't feel anymore brave than the average person either.

Here's the part where I would encourage you all to go out and be brave! Do something that scares you! Whatever all that BS is. I am not going to do that. Like I said above, I think waking up and facing each day is brave. If you are having a really awful day, but you still managed to get out of bed, even if it was just to get food, then you are brave! If you started a new internship, you are brave too! Maybe you had a completely average day, but still you got out of bed! I think if we all just remember that everyone is facing their own battles the world would be a better place. No one has a "perfect" life. I know that is hard to see (especially with social media), but it is the truth. Everyone has their own stuff. Even the people you pass in the grocery store or see at a stoplight. I once heard a quote that said something along the lines of "if everyone threw their problems in a pile, you'd probably still pick yours". To many, my problem may seem like the worst thing ever. I get that. To me though, I can think of a million things that would be worse.

So be nice. Be appreciative. And even though you are already doing it, be brave.
Day 4: To Live For The Future by ~thenorthernlights14 on deviantART

We live among everyday heroes. Men and women who have seen real combat, horrific tragedy and the battle often comes home with them.

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