During CancerCon 2015 I attended a breakout session in which Tamika Felder shared some of her story and spoke about how to share our story. I can not even begin to express how inspired this left me feeling. I would say I was almost eager for someone to ask me to share my story. Mind you, I was leaving out some steps Tamika talked about...the steps one needs to make sure their story is focused, we all have stories...we just need to figure out what our story is.
Recently a good friend of mine asked me to speak at a Pink Shabbat dinner. She wanted me to get up in a crowd and share my story. Still high on the inspiration from Tamika, I immediately said YES!!!! Finally, I get to share my story. But that excitement did not last, I realized I knew what my experience was...but what was my story? What do I talk about to this crowd so that it is inspirational to them? I tried to pick a theme to stick with. What am I passionate about sharing from my experience, were their issues I wanted to address, was there something to focus on in my story? I felt like I was missing the road map I needed to make this experience effective.
After days of talking to myself in the shower, in bed and on runs about my experience I started to feel better. I would focus on the fact that EVERYONE (doctors, nurses, family, friends and more) all said the same thing "Don't worry you are too young for cancer". I decided this would be my theme and I would build my story around it. I started to feel confident. I started to feel like I was ready to share my story.
Then the week of the Pink Shabbat came, my family was passing around a stomach virus and planning my story took a back seat. But I wasn't worried because in my head it all sounded good. My plan was friday before the dinner, when I had off of work to sit down and map it all out. Make sure it that my story flowed and didn't get off track, that I had a point and that I would be inspiring.
Friday I woke up sick and miserable. I called my friend and informed her that I probably couldn't or at least shouldn't come to a dinner in my current condition. I felt beyond awful since I was the only survivor speaking and she had advertised I would be there. But my friend, always kind, said she would call around and find someone else. I told her if she couldn't find anyone that I would drag myself there no matter what. But she said I should probably stay home and I should focus on feeling better. So that is what I did. I went and laid down and forgot all about mapping out my story. That is until she called me back hours later to tell me that she could not find anyone else and could I please come to the dinner just long enough to speak. Of course I would not let her down.
As I sat waiting to be introduced, I realized I wasn't ready...what was my story again? What could I possibly share that could mean something to these people? What did I have to say that was important? I was unprepared, even though I had been planning it for weeks. I didn't have the road map I needed to make this an effective speech. But I did go up there and give it my best. I focused on the "Don't worry you are too young for cancer" but somehow along the way other themes started working their way in and my talk ended up disjointed, awkward and perhaps a little watered down from what I had wanted it to be. I almost felt embarrassed for my friend for endorsing me. I am sure that I felt it was worse than the people listening, mostly because it was not what I had hoped it would be. It wasn't inspirational or motivating or heartfelt. It wasn't even me.
I want to share my story. This won't be the last time I try, I am going to do this. I know that somewhere in all my experiences I have an amazing story to tell. I just need to find it.