On Being Brave

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I don’t take compliments well. It’s a fact. It’s a personality flaw that I am constantly trying to work on. I know it makes no sense that I thrive on positive feedback but get so many kinds of awkward and embarrassed when it’s said to my face. But it’s true. I can rock some pink flushed cheeks like it’s nobody’s business.

So I never quite know how to react when I’m told I’m brave for what I’m doing. Because I certainly don’t feel that way. It doesn’t offend me at all (seriously! it doesn’t! so don’t feel bad if you’ve said it!) and I don’t know that classifying it as a “compliment” is necessarily accurate, but it’s just weird. I suppose it’s because I feel like there are so many other “brave-er” (is that a word?) people out there that are so much more deserving of the description. And I guess it’s because I truly don’t see any other option. And I honestly believe that most of the people I know would do the exact same thing in this situation, once they see the sobering statistics and meet a few people that weren’t as fortunate to receive the “gift” of knowledge and ability to do something about it. I certainly appreciate the kudos, but let me say it again. In all honesty, I don’t feel brave. I think of bravery and courage as similar, and saw this and think is the best way to describe how I feel:

“Courage is being scared to death… And saddling up anyway” – John Wayne.

Am I scared? I’m not sure “scared” is the right word to describe it. But there’s something. There’s the “how the heck did I end up in this situation?!” and “how is it already here?” feelings. There’s some fear. Mainly of the unknown. There’s the weight of the gravity of the whole thing. There’s the nerves. I joke that my subconscious is more nervous than I am, or at least that’s my excuse for the waking up in the middle of the night (except the Amber Alert thing… that doesn’t count. It was obviously unrelated and seriously scared the crap out of me… Didn’t know WHAT was happening!!) There’s the pit in my stomach when I think of all I’m putting my loved ones through. But then there’s actual physical nausea when I think of the alternative. The guilt I would feel if I didn’t do this and developed cancer.

I have been asked a lot if I’m having second thoughts. I can answer that with an emphatic “NO.” Not once. Sure I wish I didn’t have to do this. But I know in the deepest part of my soul that I’ve made the right decision. And when I get nervous, I just think of my doctors and I feel safe. That I’m in the right hands. The best hands.

It also helps to have friends (cough… Nicole… cough) that embrace the negative reinforcement and send you links to terrible stories with a “I’m so glad you’re doing this” text. I laugh but it’s so true. And those stories reiterate everything. I don’t want to be a statistic.

Not sure how this day is already here, but I’m on the plane to the conference. Hence the vulnerable rambling. I said my “see you laters” ( I don’t believe in “goodbyes”) and made it 99% the way out of the hospital without tears! That’s a feat. I’m literally dumbfounded at all the support I’ve received. I am in absolute awe of humanity. I truly try to “believe in the good” when I wake up every morning. And right now? I’m astounded. I’m humbled. I’m forever indebted. And above all, I’m so, so, so very grateful.