Despite the title, this post has nothing to do with Halloween, bones, or actual skeletons. It has to do with the fact that when I think of my public portrayal of my cancer experience at this point, it seems that cancer has become a bit of a skeleton in the closet of my life.
I've tucked cancer neatly away somewhere between old boyfriends and high school- in other words, it's in the section titled 'Past'- but that hasn't kept me from feeling like I need to pile things up in front of it so no one has to look at it or think about it.
Although I have made peace with cancer, it's not something I have been in the habit of discussing on a regular basis. There was a time when I could not imagine discussing my life without including cancer, because it was such a dominating force in my life. But since finishing treatment, I have made the conscious choice not to include cancer in certain facets of my existence, and the longer I find myself post-treatment, the more cancer-free areas of life I've created. However, I think the time may have come for me to stop intentionally omitting cancer from the facts of my life.
I have found myself, at times, telling half-truths to avoid the simple fact of cancer. For example, when asked about the arm sleeve I wear when exercising, I usually respond that i just 'hurt' my arm. Or when questioned about scars, I reply that I had surgery (duh). I think I do this because don't want to be identified solely as a survivor, because I am so many other things. I fear that telling people will limit me to being known just as 'the cancer survivor'. But I also don't want cancer to be a skeleton in my closet.
It's certainly not that I am not ashamed of what I have been through; I am proud to have survived. I just don't want being a survivor to define how people view me. But I think that at this point in the journey, I am prepared to tell my story because I hope that it might inspire someone else. That's the whole reason I created Hope, Love, Run. But if you haven't noticed, I have never said my name, provided describing characteristics, or a location. It is not an accident that just a fraction of the people who read this actually know my identity.
I have recently been presented with an opportunity to share my story in a potentially much more public way. I think I have come to the conclusion that I want to do this, and not with the sense of anonymity that comes with the online world; this time it will be with my face, my name, and my voice. I don't really know what the implications of this leap might be, but I think that it is an opportunity to reach others who are not as far out of treatment as I am. I hope that I can be an encouragement, an example, and a voice of hope that shows those that are still fighting that people do survive, thrive, and move on.
Here's to taking the leap!
Hope. Love. Run.