"I Don't Know How to be Sick"

The simple words of a fellow cancer-fighter gave me the insight and strength I needed to begin treatment and believe in myself.

There’s a certain amount of fearlessness required to do anything unfamiliar. Faith helps, especially when facing an impressively difficult task. Steve Martin says in his recent memoir “Born Standing Up” that naivete is the single most important trait required for anyone about to do something truly difficult. Pure, bright-eyed innocence of what trials are awaiting them is what is needed in order to protect the individual “from knowing just how unsuited they are for what they are about to do.”   Problem is, I knew quite succinctly how difficult cancer treatment was going to be.  I had watched many family members and friends go through it before me and quite simply, I was terrified.

I have always been a supremely healthy person.  I have never stayed overnight in a hospital (with the exception of having my two children). I had never taken a prescription medication over an extended period of time and I’ve never had to have an ongoing relationship with any particular doctor. My initial reaction when I got the cancer news over breakfast with a girlfriend was to say, as I choked back tears, “I don’t know how to be sick.”

Over the course of a number of weeks, I had to prepare mentally for the challenges ahead. I came up with the concept of the “Chemo Kick-Off” party (posted earlier) as a way to cope. But the single-most effective piece of advice came from a fellow cancer-fighter. She was an acquaintance that lived in my community and had come forward when she heard about my diagnosis.  She took me aside one day at a beach party with friends and said, “Krissy, this is going to be one of the hardest things you will ever have to do, but it is DOABLE.” The word stuck in my head like glue. Doable? I had never thought of it in those terms until then. I had frozen myself into a state of thinking I couldn’t do it.  But seeing her standing there, healthy, and believing in me, made all the difference.  She said it was doable and I would come out a better, stronger person on the other side. And she was right.  I owe her so much for that. I will always be grateful to this friend that took the time to share her experience, her struggle and her triumph over the beast. The trials with my cancer fight continue, and no matter how difficult circumstances are, I still tell myself it’s all doable. And it gets me through.

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Robin R October 11, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Kristen, so glad to hear you sharing your incredible experiences. I think this is the perfect vehicle for your voice! I look forward to reading each and every post....you are beautiful!
Patti Urban, CSA October 11, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Listen Krissy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994-- yes, that means I'm an 18 year survivor AND healthy. Not only is it doable, but it works! Hang in there.
Thomas Cornick October 20, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Keep your head in the game and your heart open and you live every day at it's fullest while enhancing the outcome of treatment.
Fran B. October 22, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I find it is a little strange to connect over the internet like this, however I can relate completely with this lovely woman's need to battle bravely and her victory over uncertainty. I am going tomorrow for my 5th out of 6 chemo treatments, also adjuvant chemo following my surgery this past July, stage 2a, no lymph nodes. I love the beautiful video of the children and haircuts. Getting through this has been an ongoing emotional roller-coaster. There is nothing better than stories from the survivors, and the friendly smile and phone calls from family and friends. People, young and old, do offer words of encouragement which are precious as gold. God's spirit and His peace is with us!
Krissy March 04, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Hi Fran. I hope you are doing well. I would love to hear more about your journey. Feel free to inbox me. FIGHT! Krissy


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