Confidently Speaking About Cancer

It seems that for the most part I can write blog posts about my feelings, even speak on national television about my cancer journey, but often when It comes to smaller settings, or even a one-to-one, I clam up and become emotional. Having cancer has affected my confidence in so many ways, it varies each day depending on how I am feeling.

I can struggle to express things to friends and family, often just opting for telling people I am ok, but I don’t mind frequently sharing my thoughts online for anyone who wants to read. I don’t quite understand why I react in this way. Perhaps because some forms of sharing feel like the are more for the ‘greater good’, and could help others as well as myself, so somehow feels more worthwhile. In some ways I feel more detached from my story, but if an individual asks me about my hospital visits, even if I know them really well, I start forming tears almost instantly. My confidence levels can change daily, I certainly don’t feel confident when I am having my treatment on the chemo suite surrounded by lots of other unfortunate people. During one of my recent visits I had what I would describe as a breakdown moment. sitting in the chair waiting for my drugs to arrive I became overwhelmed with negative thoughts and burst into tears. Life is unfair, it really is, I needed a good cry that day, but no amount of crying will change my situation. One of the nurses kindly pulled the curtain around the area I was sitting (not that a flimsy blue curtain is at all soundproof) and went to get and get my mum who was in the waiting room.

A friend asked me a few months ago if I had considered filming a blog or starting a podcast, but the idea scares me much more than writing things down. With a vlog or podcast it is different; I feel I would be judged in so many other ways, and feel as though I wouldn’t have anything new to say. What if no one watches it except my parents, and, if people do, I fear it won’t be interesting or engaging enough. Vlogging or creating a podcast seems like a bigger investment somehow. Who really wants to know what I did on a day off? I also don’t like the sound of my own voice; it is my voice however, and it isn’t going to change, so I should just be comfortable with it. I also have a lot of scars, including a particularly huge one of my neck form my original melanoma site, so the thought of creating a video where I am the subject feels strange to me. When Sue Bourne and he team filmed me for A Time To Live they followed me around for a few days, I got to know the small crew and felt secure with them. I still think I look odd and slightly uncomfortable on camera though!

If someone was asked to describe me I’m not sure what they would say; in some ways I’m confident, but in other ways I feel cancer has crushed my confidence and I can’t move forward. On the outside I seem fine, but on the inside it can be a different story. My fear with vlogging would be that others would be hoping to see a happy person or hear encouraging words on how to be powerful and strong and brave, but I often don’t feel that way. People want to see positive stories, but what if I can’t give that? Not every day is a good day, I try to muddle though as best I can.

I’m often happy with my own company, or having the house to myself for a night, but cancer is a lonely place, and I don’t think I benefit from having down time, as it’s gives me too much room to think. Towards the end of 2017 I felt I was in a dark place and was prescribed antidepressants which I’ve now been taking for over six months. This has helped take the edge of and feel like I can still get through a day unscathed. Often, if I am around people I trust and love I can be the most chatty person in the room, but put me in front of  new people and it is a different story all together and my confidence is non existent. Ultimately I am just me and I should accept it, but cancer has changed me forever in so many ways, and I can’t go back to the younger, carefree, drama student version of myself.

12 thoughts on “Confidently Speaking About Cancer

  1. I started to read your blogs after watching A Time To Live, you are an amazing young lady and your honesty and bravery is inspirational. Life is unfair ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are powerful strong & brave. Yet, you are allowed to feel vulnerable too without having to manage the expectation of others who need you to be something else. Keep living in the moment & thank you for sharing your thoughts & feeling & simply being yourself.💚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really admire you. You are brave and articulate and the kind of voice we need for melanoma. Like you I feel vulnerable and my emotions are a roller coaster and entirely unpredictable. I’m 5 years past my “best before date” and figure I should have it sorted by now…reality isn’t that simple. Keep blogging. Just do only what you want to do not what others want you to do and know that your voice is being heard all around the globe. I know this is true as I’m in New Zealand!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah, wow New Zealand! Thanks insane! Thanks so much for your message! Reality isn’t simple that’s true, I wish there was a how to guide on how to deal with things.

      Thanks for your message, hope all is good with you


  4. Great post, Jo. I know what you mean about confidence; so many people see me as carefree, self-assured and sorted, but that’s seldom how I see myself. In some ways my experience has been the opposite to yours: I have always had a positive, confident, ‘everything’s okay even if I have / have had cancer’ tone when writing my blog — and people naturally take their cue from that. It’s only when I talk to people privately that I’m able to be a bit more honest about the tougher side of things — but even then it’s only those closest to me who see all my anxieties.

    There’s no right way about it, though — only whichever way we feel comfortable with. It can be good to push yourself to do things you’re nervous about, but it’s only worth it if it’s something you really see a benefit in doing so.

    Take care.
    George (from the Maggie’s event)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey George, I completely agree, there is no right way! I wish there was a handbook on how to talk to people about cancer!

      Hope all is good with you


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