When I was a little kid I decided that as an adult I was going to perform on Broadway and, in my spare time, be a rock star. My ideals for my life and career were set in my mind before I reached middle school. Through my teens and early twenties, I followed those plans as best I could. I didn't end up on Broadway, but I did tour around with a children's theatre troupe. I wasn't a world renown rock star, but I did find a local club that let me play my music. Then cancer hit and my little kid dreams, as I expected them, were derailed.
You might think I would feel deflated over my life being unexpectedly rerouted. You're right. I will admit there are days when I look at my scars and changed body image and become frustrated. I get angry over the chemo fatigue, brain fog, and other side effects. What I've come to realize though, is that it's okay. It's okay to get angry, it's okay to be frustrated; but know there is still value in those little kid dreams.
When I broke down what I really wanted out of performing on Broadway and being a rock star, I found the common denominator was having a voice that was heard. Cancer may have changed my expected idea of how I would have my voice heard, but in a way it also gave me a platform to reach that goal. I never saw my advocacy coming.
What the little kid me didn't know was that there are other ways to have a positive influence on this world besides the glitz and glamour of celebrity. The little kid me didn't understand that sometimes it's the average person without their name in lights that becomes the catalyst for change. I don't think the little kid me even knew what a health care advocate was.
It's easy to let go of our childhood dreams when tragedy strikes, but it's not necessary. The point I'm trying to make is that it's okay to reframe our reference. Cancer does unspeakable things to our lives as we know them, but it's important to keep hold of that unique and meaningful light inside of ourselves. If you were five years old and wearing Superman underroos with dreams of fighting the bad guys, that doesn't have to be gone because of cancer. You're still battling the enemy, you're still the person others look up to for your strength.
Take some time when you're feeling low and remember who the little kid you wanted you to be. You might be surprised to find out, even with this infuriating disease, you are surprisingly achieving your little kid goals. They are different, but they still have value. We still have value.
Follow Erin Havel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Erin_Havel