Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I CAN HELP

Tasza & I - Ottawa, Ontario - Winter 2014
I had thought that once I got through this whole cancer thing I would have some sort of epiphany.  You know like there would be some big major change in my life or shift in focus due to the whole cancer experience.  I kept waiting for this to happen.  I had read how it had made other people change their lives for the better.  But then I started to realize that my life was pretty darn good before this all happened.  It’s not like I had some kind of addiction that I needed to get over, or that I was in a bad relationship that I was going to leave, or that I had some really bad habits that I needed to change.  I was already living my life in a healthy positive way and I had an awesome husband and family that I loved very much.  I had good friends and a good job and a nice home and was generally quite fit and healthy.  Maybe my epiphany was that I went through this cancer trip for a reason and the reason is to be able to help others.  To be an example.  To give back.  I don’t know but it seemed to me like there were things happening all around me that were signs that I should be listening to and acting on.

Alex & I - Ottawa Airport - Spring 2014
Many women in my community told me that they had seen me around town pre-cancer and knew that I was active and running and that it scared them to find out that I still ended up with cancer.  They then saw me around town looking puffy and bald and that because of me they went for a mammogram.  Wow that is pretty amazing when you think about it.  I guess they thought that if it happened to me it could happen to them.  Now they were seeing me again and now I was looking close to being back to normal.  One woman that lives just up the street from me was diagnosed around this time and although I did not know her well I was asked by a mutual friend to call her.  So I did and we had several talks over the coming months.  At one point she had told me her young children did not like that she was bald and it kind of scared them.  So one day as I was driving past and I saw them outside I told the kids that I too was bald like their Mom was but that my hair grew back and that hers would too.  Maybe that helped.  I sure hope so.

I had several opportunities to share my story with others and I was given another chance to share in June of 2009.  Someone from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer had my name and passed it on to the producer of a video series that they were working on.  The series, called “The Truth of It”, is an unscripted video series about cancer.  It is an online collection of patient stories that offer peer support with a diverse group of people speaking very personally about their cancer experiences.  The interviews were going to be part of a website to provide newly diagnosed patients with peer to peer advice about the discovery, treatment and experience of cancer.  Kind of a virtual support.  I decided to do it.

One day in June the film crew showed up at my house and took over the main floor with the set up and lighting and other equipment.  I sat down with the director and she just started talking to me and asking me questions.  I just answered her as if we were two friends talking and not so much like an interview.  It felt perfectly natural and not staged or anything so I liked that.

A few weeks later we received a rough cut of the video.  I watched it and I cried.  Then Mike
Mike & I - Summer 2014
watched it and he cried.  Then the kids watched and they cried and I cried again.  Then I had a huge meltdown.  It is a very strange experience to see yourself on TV and hear yourself talking.  Especially about something so personal.  At one point it hit me that this woman on the screen was ME!  That all of that stuff actually happened to me.  To us.  Of course I know that it did but many days I simply just put it out of my head as much as I possibly could, like it never happened and here it was spewing out of my own mouth.  I was trying so hard to look forward because it was very hard to look backward.  It was overwhelming.  
I was looking forward to the final cut.  When it finally went online I was pretty excited. Here it is if you have a few minutes to spare:

I ended up posting the link on Facebook and got so many comments from people.  One friend that I have known since elementary school wrote me a beautiful message about how this video inspired her to make some changes in her own life as she was struggling with her own issues.  She wrote:
“I had NO idea you were a cancer survivor. I have just finished watching your video and cannot even begin to express how inspired I am by your strength, your attitude, your insight and perspective.

I have been struggling with health this year too.  At times I have felt frustrated and hopeless when I was left with only a fraction of daily functioning compared to my normal standard. I lost my way for a while and let negativity get the best of me. That has been overcome now, and I dare say having been exposed to your journey by that video, it will not likely return.

Whatever my struggles have been this year, I feel like I have gathered so much fortitude from your experience. Thank you so much for sharing it openly here, you cannot possibly imagine how deeply and positively it has impacted me.

What better time to offer my sincere thanks than at Thanksgiving. May it be joyful, healthy, abundant and peaceful for us all.”

I had really hoped in my heart that my story might help someone else in some small way so it really makes me happy that it did.  It all happened for a reason and more and more it seems that reason might be to help others.

I Can Help - Billy Swan




2 comments:

  1. Hi Tracy,
    Kevin Kane suggested I read your blog...I cried when I watched your video. I just finished treatment a month ago. I had a great life too before all this started...I went through a lot to get to the point I was at. I was also waiting for an epiphany....some reason to explain why this happened. You articulated many of my feelings...felt like you were speaking on my behalf! On some of my worst days I had help from someone else from Lockerby who has battled breast cancer. I am hoping to help others too once I feel better. There's no shortage of women being diagnosed is there? :( Thanks, Norah

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    1. Hi Norah - Thank you so so so much for your comments! I am very happy that Kevin passed my blog on to you. This is exactly why I started writing my story in the first place. You certainly are not alone and I am so glad to know that others might find my story useful. I am glad you are done your treatments and I wish you a good health moving forward. If you would like to chat more, by all means send me an email at tebotarnowski@gmail.com. Take care Norah and thanks again for taking the time to read and watch the video.

      TT

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