Tuesday, July 1, 2014

MY FEET IN THE SAND: You Don't Know What You Don't Know...

photo courtesy of National Geographic

If someone walked up to you and said YOU, I need brain surgery.  The likelihood of you being a brain surgeon would probably be slim.  And if you are not a brain surgeon, you'd say no.  I don't know how to do that.  You might be able to refer one to a hospital or in fact a surgeon but you know you don't know how to perform surgery.

Now think of your profession, career, expertise or hobby.  I will use me as an example.  If someone asked me to write something, a letter, a speech (my mother often contracts me for letters for her although I live 3000 miles away) I could do it all day long.  If I needed to get your butt out of the nearest exit on the plane, I also could do that and if you wanted peanuts, well refer to above, because I know I can't do that.  My point, what you know, you know you know.  If you are a butcher, a baker or a candle stick maker, you know what you know.  Whether you're good or not is up for debate but you know.

Imagine this and ponder the concept, you know what you know.  Now ponder this, there's a vast world out there, a world of you don't know what you don't know

but when you know better, you do better.  Some of you are saying, she sure is quoting a lot of Maya Angelou, God rest her soul, lately.  And that's true because she spoke truth. *You don't know what you don't know is a Landmark Education Forum module.

How I look at Breast Cancer in respect to other people is, you don't know what you don't know and until they know, how can we get mad?

I was in group recently and one of the soldiers spoke of how, you see her put on lipstick, and comb her hair (she didn't lose her hair, she used the cold cap technique--a process that freezes your scalp and prevents your hair from falling out).  People assume because she looks great and is pretty self-sufficient that she doesn't need or want help.  Another soldier chimed in that during her treatments her neighbors, who had been very neighborly before, exchanging a pie or two, rarely checked on her.  In turn she expressed how deeply that inaction hurt her.  I asked a simple question.....did they know?

After I assembled #TeamToniSH, I posted a series of weekly text messages giving grave detail about how I was doing and what was going on with me.  I needed you to get this.  After my first bout with chemo, I texted how debilitating and painful it was.  Explaining the pain was like explaining the pain of birth to one who had never been pregnant but the pain was far worse.  And though I had never given birth, others who have told me they'd take birth pain over Cancer and/or chemo pain any day. 

The pain was new and Ericka called me that Sunday.  I couldn't go to church, I couldn't walk straight and frequent trips to the bathroom made it unwise, so I live streamed the service and couldn't make it through that completely.  But after sending the text, she called.  I explained the text in more detail and we cried and cried, not our last cry, we cried.  Boy did I need that empathy.  The pain wasn't gone but the sting of it was, especially with that cry.

Other members of #TeamToniSH, Carole and Tammy expressed how they had no idea about the journey of Cancer even though family members and friends had succumbed to the disease.  It's rare that you'll find a person unaware of Cancer, Susan G. Komen, American Cancer Society and others have made prolific strides in areas of awareness, screening, treatment.  However, few are aware of the journey, what really happens during....my reason for this blog.

Now you know.  My hope is that the next time you meet or greet someone you know and they tell you they have/had Cancer of any kind, know while the journey may be different for everyone, it's a journey well traveled with little knowledge.

I give voice to the journey, my journey.  Thank you for coming along.

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