I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with women in all different stages of their cancer journey. I am forever grateful to be with them in their most vulnerable moments. We have shared laughs, and lots and lots of tears. To work with this community is truly an honor. These women have taught me so much, and I want them to know the impact that they have had on my life is something I will be forever thankful for.
Here are some of the things I have learned,
1. Not all women want to be defined by their diagnosis. There are times when a woman will speak up and share her journey, and then there are times when she just wants to live life and not be reminded of it. Everyone is different, and the way they respond to this traumatic disease is different.
2. Even when the cancer is gone, the emotional and physical scars remain. This is a big one. The people in your life want you to get rid of the cancer, so you can move on...but also so THEY can move on. Once the chemo, surgery and radiation is done people don't realize that this "battle" is far from over. The calls stop coming in, and the meals stop getting delivered, and those closest to you do not realize that there are some emotional and physical wounds that just may not heal. Even though the cancer may be gone, the emotional healing has not begun.
3. Every woman is different. Not all cancer diagnoses are the same. Not all healing is the same. Some women are 10 years cancer free and can laugh and joke about their missing boob(s) and another woman is 10 years out and still can't look at herself in the mirror.
4. Cancer can crush relationships. There are so many partners that are not able to withstand the emotional and physical support that is required. I have met some of the most amazing, loving women who are now trying to navigate the dating world post cancer because their husband/partner was not able to handle it.
5. Cancer does not discriminate. I work with women from all ages, stages, countries and backgrounds. There is not a "demographic", it touches women everywhere.
6. It's all about perspective. You can't work with this community every day and not let it affect your life. The way these women have dealt with trauma, loss, pain, hurt, and they are still standing. They are here, encouraging their friends who may have just gotten a diagnosis, they are sharing their stories and are showing up. I am inspired by them, and I am forever grateful for the chance to be a part of their lives.
There are SOOO many more things that I want to add, but I will just say this...
I am HONORED to do the work that I do, I am honored to serve these women in this community. I do not take it for granted, they are my inspiration. Thank you.
Stay fearless, Allison.