I have been asked numerous times to give my cancer story to a group of people. Public speaking is not a strength I possess. In fact, it teeters on the edge of being fearful. When I was a young child, I had a huge speech impediment that I believe attributes to my fear of speaking, especially to people who I have no clue who they are. The fear is there on the day leading up to the speech and then even for the first five minutes of my talk. You will slowly notice my voice becoming less shaky, the nerves dwindling as I become passionate about my story. No matter how fearful I am, I always say yes when asked to speak.
Each time I’m asked, I start over on a new speech. I ignore my previous copy and start from how I feel in my heart at that moment. I take into consideration my audience. Who are they? Why are they here? What can I offer them? The writing part is easy for me. Words flow like water from a faucet. I can ease into the story or I can be blunt. I know when to stress a topic to make a point. I know when to add in the emotional factor. It’s the speaking part that gets me every time. If I didn’t have my copy in front of me, I would be a blubbering mess.
My story grows and changes, yet the same major concepts are there. I’m a survivor! I have been since I was a young girl. I survived my grandmother’s diagnoses. I survived my mom’s diagnoses. I survived mine, and my sister’s. I fought right alongside of them. Their stories are engrained in my heart and soul right along my story.
Despite my nerves and fears I have talking in front of a large group, I am pleased with myself every time. I have used my cancer, and of those I love, as a life lesson. We all have different stories. Our diagnosis and treatments were different. Our fears, our stresses, and our lives were different. Yet here we are, three generations of four strong women willing to share their stories in hopes to inspire, to education, and to help assist where we can.
In the end, telling my story has helped heal the wounds. I might fret more than I should talking in front of an audience, but when I’m done, I feel cathartic. I’m not just relieved the speech is over, but I feel energized in knowing that my story may help someone decide to make a doctor’s appointment, or take an added stand against cancer. If you ever have the opportunity to speak in front of a group, please consider it. Everyone has a story that can impact someone else. Be that story!
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