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Strength

February 17, 2013

Strength

This solitary word has been the one I have heard the most during the past year. People find comfort in saying phrases such as,” You are so strong”, “You must have strength” “Be strong.” I truly believe people say these words believing these are the words I need to hear yet I do not believe that word has been clearly defined.

Behind the word “Strength” lies mountains of pressure to “be strong” in a way that makes others feel comfortable and full of hope. I have realized that there are many hidden layers of meaning in the true expression of strength, and many of these layers often leave people feeling uncomfortable and saddened.

In the classic, straightforward meaning of strength, I agree that it takes a strong spirit and a strong character to face this disease.

It takes strength…

To walk into a room and hear test results that directly inform you on how much longer the doctors think will be alive.

It takes strength…

To hear doctors tell you that you have a 3% chance of being cured and a 5% chance of making it through the next 12 months.

It takes strength…

To walk into chemo treatments with a smile and a hello and not sit there and cry even though you know how awful you will feel within the next hour.

It takes strength…

To walk away from doctors and surgeons who are the top in their field, when your gut tells you they are not the right fit.

It takes strength…

To hear your doctors tell you there is no hope and then muster up enough courage to tell them they are wrong.

It takes strength…

To find out you will lose your ability to have children and to still agree to go through with treatment even though the treatment is not guaranteed to work.

It takes strength…

To look like you have it all together when inside you have days when you have completely fallen apart.

It takes strength….

To watch your first true cancer friend die, stand in front of her casket and still be able to breathe. It takes courage to say good-bye to her in appropriate silence when all you really want to do is scream and admit that there is a part of you…deep inside…that is secretly jealous she no longer has to fight this insane battle.

The last line I just wrote took me more strength to write than any other words I have written. Here comes the other side of strength that is less spoken of and much less understood. It takes all I am to admit I do not always feel strong in the traditional sense of the word. For a long time, I felt that to admit I am not always “full of strength” meant letting others down and showing others my weaknesses. Yet as I struggled with these thoughts, I finally realized that it takes an incredible amount of strength to be able to share the dark side of this disease and to admit fear. So here is the other side of strength…

I believe it takes strength…

To admit I am scared out of my mind whether or not I will make it through this.

I believe it takes strength…

To admit I am not afraid to die, I am just petrified of the process of dying.

I believe it takes strength…

To admit how angry I am that any relationship I have from diagnosis forward could be tainted by pity or even worse, fear.

I believe it takes strength…

To admit I am jealous of normalcy and crave the day that I do not think about cancer-even though I know that day will most likely never come.

I believe it takes strength…

To admit to myself I may not be here to see my niece and nephews grow up.

It
takes strength…

To watch my family suffer and know I am the cause.

It takes strength…

To wake up every day knowing my days are most likely numbered and to admit that I have not done everything I want to with my life.

It takes strength…

To be alone with my mind and body at night, while wondering in the darkness if this cancer is spreading inside of me.

It takes strength….

To admit I do not always feel strong.

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5 Comments
  1. Kirsten Kallon permalink

    I just wanted to say I enjoyed your post. My name is Kirsten I am 29 years old and was diagnosed with Stage 3 colorectal cancer May 29,2012. After 6 months of hell ie chemo and a 6.5 hour surgery I am officially cancer free and am already back to work. The port is out and with some scars I am ready to move on with my life. Going through this really gives us a unique perspective for ones so young I know what I want for my life & am more dedicated than ever to achieving my goals. The day by day can suck but there is a light at the end of the tunnel! 😉 you got this! I just hope you have the wonderful family and friends I have that were there for me every minute of everyday! It was my husband holding me when I was crying in pain from the chemo. I never even spent a night alone during my postop recovery! Where are you being treated? I went to Sloan & get not say enough good things about Dr. Salz Dr. Guillem and the amazing nurses and staff there!
    Sending positive vibes your way!
    Kirsten

    Like

    • My surgeon is dr. Guillem as well! I also worked with dr. Fong for my liver. Dr. Guillem gave me hope when no other surgeon would. I am eternally thankful for him. I have been on chemo since may, radiation then surgery in December,and more chemo…this week I have a pet scan. I am feeling pretty good, working part time and trying to balance life. Congrats on being cancer free! It is wonderful to hear about your journey. This experience has definitely given me more life perspective, I agree that we have a unique opportunity to turn this around and use what we have learned to make our lives even richer. Is dr. Salz your oncologist?

      Like

  2. Naj permalink

    I love you so much Kristen… You are an amazing human being. God bless you.

    Like

  3. Aunt Angie permalink

    I’m speechless! You have tapped in to an inner resource that most people don’t get to in a lifetime. Your life, your journey has seen more and done more and experienced more than anyone has in a lifetime. You have been given this gift of strength and has shown us how to have it too. To live in the PRESENT is the present and as they say with one foot in the past and one foot in the future you are crapping on today. I am so glad you have found a way to live in TODAY. No pity, no fear, just love is what is surrounding you and I am glad to be part of your circle. I love you more than words can describe……

    Like

  4. Kirsten Kallon permalink

    Sorry for delay sooo funny yes Dr. Salz is my oncolgist too! I ❤ Debbie!…how is everything? Did the scan show shrinking? Just went back for scoping n to see Dr. Guillem everything's cool and has healed great but I was sooooooo anxious n scared!!! I guess I will have to deal with this for the rest of my life! I have another colonoscopy in 2 weeks so fun fun fun! :-/ nah procedures not so bad it's the day b4 thatsuper sucks! But doing well just working full time n lovin it….hope things are going better for you too…give me an update!

    Like

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