Disclaimer–this post is not about any one person or any group in particular. This post is my own perspective based on my own experiences and background. I’m sure that I’m wrong in about 1000 ways. With that in mind, read further at your own risk.
I’m a straight shooter, direct nearly to the point of being unkind at times. It’s not that I’m not capable of nuanced responses, I’ve just often felt that I don’t have time for them, especially now. It’s not that I’m not an empathetic person, I am; at the same time, I really do see things in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. It’s not that I don’t care about people’s feelings, I’m most often first focused on the facts or solving a problem and feelings often come secondary. I also do this to myself–focusing on solving the problem first and then feeling later, which has it’s own pros and cons.
I am sad and frustrated with all of the drama within the breast cancer community. I’m not talking about differences of opinion or the reasonable perspectives that differ; I’m referencing personal attacks, calling names, and recruiting others to do the same. We can’t all be positive all of the time and everyone has bad days; however, when the nastiness becomes personal and everyone feels the need to take sides, it is wholly counterproductive.
This is what I know …
Cancer is a GIGANTIC problem.
Cancer is a monster of GIGANTIC proportions.
Cancer is sneaky.
Cancer is overwhelming.
Cancer is a killer.
No one person or small group of people could hope to solve this issue alone or in isolation. We all need each other in order to tackle such a beast. We need to work together in order to make any discernible progress.
How could this happen? I, of course, have a few thoughts …
- Believe the best about each other. This is as true with non-cancery people as it is with those of us with cancer. If you are looking for something negative, then you will find it. At the same token, if you are looking for something positive, then you will find it. There are certainly some truly bad people in the world, but that’s the exception in my experience.
- Take a deep breath before responding. The immediacy of communication because of social media is often a drawback since reactionary responses become the norm in the conversation. If we all just took a deep breath before typing, many conflicts could probably be avoided.
- STOP GOSSIPING. The definition of gossip I have always subscribed to is that if the person you are talking to is not part of the problem or the solution, then its gossip. I’m not saying that people don’t need to be called out when they are wrong, just that talking to everyone about that person before you confront them is not the way to handle conflict or conflict resolution.
- Partner, don’t compete. Just like doctors or hospitals that guard their own data or efforts rather than sharing, I see non-profits and advocates do this too. I get that there is a limited amount of money and time and we’re often limited geographically; however, we won’t get anywhere productive unless we work together. We are a powerful force when we are partners in this work, not competitors.
- Be vulnerable. Sharing of yourself in a unique and authentic way is powerful. Putting yourself “out there” means inviting comments and the scorn of others. Yet, we need to rise above the comments and gossip of others to educate the people not immersed in #Cancerland.
Authenticity and commitment to integrity will go a long way. We all need to work together to advocate for the research we all need. Those of us with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, the only stage of breast cancer that murders us 100% of the time, have a different urgency. This urgency and sometimes desperation can be misinterpreted at times and can be perceived as negativity. We’re actively dying and this creates a different head space that we live in. Yet, we still all need one another including the early stagers.
Together, we can make a difference. Individually, disconnected from others, the impact is so much less. Who’s with me?