Courage

I am an ordinary person living an ordinary life. And I have lung cancer.
My life is just like anyone else’s; I laugh, I cry, sometimes hysterically, but I am an ordinary person. And I have lung cancer.
I have hopes and dreams and plans, but I am an ordinary person. And I have lung cancer.
I get up in the morning and go to bed at night. And in between I do laundry, I grocery shop, I read, I play, but I am an ordinary person. And I have lung cancer.
I am not a hero; I am not more courageous than anyone else, but I am an ordinary person. And I have lung cancer. It does not have me.

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18 thoughts on “Courage

  1. Is it tiring hearing everyone call you courageous and an inspiring hero? Maybe it becomes tiring to feel like you have to live up to that image that people have of you? I don’t know, I’ve never experienced being anyone’s hero, in fact, mostly the opposite. I have more often felt that others see me as a nuisance and barely tolerable, which is terribly painful and baffling and sometimes more than I can bear waking up to in the mornings. But the reality is that we are who we are, stark naked when stripped of all those labels and impositions of other people’s opinions, forced to co-exist with all of our strengths and weaknesses, flaws and beauty marks, quirks and idiosyncrasies. Sometimes it’s hard to see the real us beyond all of those other words that others have tossed into our minds…sometimes the words fit, sometimes they really don’t, it’s a journey determining which are which, and maybe even which ones we wish did fit.

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I love you so much, and I see you living your ordinary everyday life, and even before you were diagnosed with cancer, you were my hero and a constant inspiration for me to roll out of that bed every day and do something with the amazing gift of each day that I had been given. With the diagnosis of lung cancer, I suppose I’m as guilty as anyone else for being awestruck, because we all know that you could have just laid down on your bed and stayed there until you died. Some people do that. But you didn’t. You have grabbed life – every day, precisely in those ordinary routine things, and lived it as fully and graciously and authentically as you possibly can. How can I not be floored and awed and inspired by that?

    If it is a burden, I won’t ever use the word “hero” again, but that won’t change how my heart sees you…it will just continue to whisper into the depths of MY soul: “hero” “awesome woman” “thank you”. ❤

  2. It isn’t that I feel the need to live up to what other people think or that it’s a burden, it’s just that I don’t feel particularly courageous or hero-ish (is that a word? LOL) I see myself as an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, if that makes sense.

    If by sharing my trials and tribulations I can help one person, it’s worth it. I still don’t see that as particularly courageous, just human. We learn from each other and inspire each other if we would only strip away our need to depend on the approval from other people. We are all awesome women because each of us has overcome so much in our life. And you have overcome a lot even though some days you might feel it isn’t worth it. You matter to me, and don’t ever forget that! ❤

  3. angelika says:

    Dear Ruth,

    Your words touched me deeply. I think it is hard for all of us to find the correct words. I know I’ve used those words, you’ve mentioned. I have used them, perhaps, to avoid other words — words that may sound too sad or discouraging.
    But basically, it comes down to feelings that can’t really be expressed in words. Feelings of compassion, sorrow, and of course the big ‘why’ question.
    The main thing is people sincerely care about you, and are accompanying you, one way or another along this journey. Maybe we aren’t all so eloquent with our words,…and maybe it’s just because we really don’t know what to say.
    But our feelings are real. Any one of us can be stricken down at any time with some terrible illness. And I can just imagine myself at an emotional rock bottom…and then someone comes up with…’you are so brave and strong’…. I can imagine that would get under my skin too. I can imagine my insides would be screaming, I’m not strong…I’m not brave…. I’m damn tired of this.
    I understand Ruth. I’m not in your shoes, but I do believe I understand.
    However you want to be, just be, and we will accompany you as best we can.
    Your friend, Angelika

  4. Thank you, Angelika. I think what I’m trying to convey is that I don’t feel particularly brave or strong or courageous. This cancer is just another bump in the road. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use whatever words you want and I’m not trying to invalidate your feelings. I’m just trying to express that I don’t feel like a hero for dealing with this card I’ve been dealt. I appreciate your company on this journey; it makes the journey less scary. ❤

  5. angelika says:

    What words or actions or expressions would you feel are most comforting? This is an honest question, and I really don’t know if there is any answer. Probably not. I’m sending you a gentle hug in my thoughts, and if I could, I’d bring that cake you posted.

  6. Don’t you remember, we make up our own words…which reminds me, how are you doing with that dictionary we’re creating? Eh?

    Everything you say does make sense, and I actually grasp it better than my comment might have conveyed. It’s always amazing to me how our merely going about our daily lives can help others…as is clearly the case here. You do help others…in ripply kinds of ways that many of us probably don’t even recognize in the moment and yet our lives are changed forever.

    We ARE all awesome. That’s one thing that BWS has taught me. That every single one of us has history and woundings that we have had to overcome to get here. We ought to be celebrating each other so much more than we do. We ought to be having parties every day, not just on our birthdays, because every day that we show up is a new birthing day of sorts.

    I do believe that my struggles have been worth it, indeed I do. Lately I’ve been stuck in a painful place and have felt like I was drowning. But I’m not, and I’m already finding new balance and focus. And do you think I could do that as quickly and confidently without the example and support of you and our other awesome sister-friends? Maybe, but I’m glad I don’t have to do it alone, I’m grateful that you ARE here. You matter to me, and I will not forget that, wonders of wonders, I matter to you too. See, that right there makes an awesome difference! An ordinary woman? An ordinary awesome woman. Is that an oxymoron? I love oxymorons!

    “Sometimes when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways it can change someone else’s life forever.” – Margaret Cho

  7. Ruth, from what I know of you in our online exchanges over the last couple of years, you are a down-to-earth person with a good sense of humor and strong opinions. I’ve enjoyed your positive outlook as a counterpoint so often to my cantankerous one.

    Cancer has only shown that you are strong enough to retain your character and personality and you still are in control of defining yourself and your life. Maybe that’s not courage, but many of us will find ourselves in your shoes down the road and we can only hope to face cancer with a stoutness of heart, a stubborn nature and the ability to find pleasure in our lives in between the battles.

  8. Thank you Michelle. I try to make sure that cancer isn’t running my life or defining me. It’s hard sometimes, and it helps to have so many amazing people supporting me. 😀

  9. Ruth, I know whereof you speak. We all play the cards we are dealt. The way I look at it, those in our shoes have two options. Curl up in a corner and let it take over. Or just go on about our daily business as ordinarily as possible. I also don’t see the latter as especially courageous or heroic, just the path we opted to take. But I’ll take all of the positive vibes I can get, however worded. 🙂

    Take care. We are all in your court.

  10. In short: you are not a “victim” of lung cancer, and never will be. I think in a world filled with people who would love to be a victim of something — anything! — just to get some attention, anyone who refuses the victim’s role stands out. As you do.

  11. You described life as you see it, so perfectly, IMHO, Ruth. I think what you are trying to say is that cancer is a cross you have been asked to bear, and you are proceeding through life as best as you can, while still carrying that cross. I think you are saying that you are not comfortable being called a hero or courageous, because in your heart you know that there are other people who walk this earth who also have been tasked with heavy crosses — the Samaritan doctors who got Ebola, the person whose house burnt down, the grieving parents who just lost a baby, the Olympic swimmer who is trying to learn how to walk again after a ski machine accident. The list of people n the world who have had tragedy befall them is endless.

    And I love the part at the end of your message when you said the cancer does not have you! That’s a fighter’s attitude. That’s the attitude that we need if we are to overcome our obstacles.

    So please keep carrying on with your life, Ruth. Wash those dishes, sort the wash, shop for groceries, sleep, wake, work and play. But please know that while you are doing that, we’d like to believe that you have armed yourself with an armor of light — the love of God, which is protecting you from that cancer.

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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