Monday, October 3, 2011

The difficulty with being told you're an "inspiration" or "so strong..."

Chemo Day 5

I know I'm a LIVESTRONG Leader, and that implies that I have found some strength in things. That I'm in a position to lead that is more unique than others.

Yes, I've always loved leading things, helping to run events and programs, I'll say it, being in the spotlight. But I'm most comfortable being in that position when I feel like I've earned it. Or that I deserve it. Do I love being in the spotlight because of a great performance? You bet. Do I like being acknowledged as a leader when I have achieved something great? Absolutely.

But here's the thing. I'm hardly an inspiration. I'm a stubborn control freak who is either too hard-headed or stupid to accept the fact that cancer can have some control over me. Is it divine strength or sheer blondeness that I "conquer" through this stuff?

And I'm fallible. I'm so fallible. I have a terrible temper. I can shriek and curse like a truck driver when pushed too far. I say things to my kids that I regret after the blood has cooled and I realize how terrible they were. I can be a tyrannical, screaming banshee in my house. Who knows what terrible things the neighbors think happen in my home? In fact, the poor things witnessed one of my rants as I reamed out a service-provider who was pretending that there wasn't work that had yet to be done and was trying to squirm out of acknowledging the fact he was paid to do things. And that was after a hissy fit because I didn't want anyone in my house.

I spend more hours than I'd like to admit crying, being bratty, and being mopey. I can kvetch, bitch and moan like nobody's business. It's practically an art form. When it comes to certain topics, I am most unforgiving and nasty (just ask my ex-husband and other former friends).

Yes, I say things aloud that, I think, a lot of people feel or wish or need to hear. But that's because I have no filter. That's not because I'm special. It's because I observe things and say them like they are. Yeah, I have a knack for being quippy and putting things in a funny way.

If being just like anyone else, but just more extroverted and willing to blurt things out that would make others shudder inspires you, so be it.

But understand it's not false-modesty when I say, "no, really, I'm not an inspiration, etc," it's genuinely that I just don't see it. I'm glad that things I say and do push others to do good things. I'm happy that has decided that my story, and manner of expression, are helping them spread the word and raise awareness. And, while I would not object to a statue or painting of my likeness (a much thinner version of my likeness that is), don't be offended if I ask or question praise.

I have skeletons in my closet just like everyone else. In fact, I have some pretty gnarly ones. Which is why I don't clean my house.


  1. Don't worry, there are plenty of us out here who don't view you in the ways you've quoted in the title of this blog posting.

    So many have faced so much more and accomplished greater things in working for the benefit of others in the face of a cancer diagnosis; and they've done it quietly, with style and grace.

  2. Hmm. I'm not sure if that's a backhanded comment or recognition of the many women who have done as you've said - chosen to do it quietly and privately.

    I think my concern is how many of those women have chosen to do so quietly because they felt that they had to hide it due to stigma or personal style?

    And, of course, this begs the question, if some don't feel that way about me, why do they follow this blog?

    And I think I'm doing it with style - my own. And with grace? I promise that the next video blog I post, I'll do it in full Dancing With the Stars regalia. ;)

  3. Anonymous, publicly but anonymously chastising a woman who blogs about facing cancer because your challenges were somehow "better" than hers is hardly acting with style or grace. And Rica, just because you do some things that inspire people, doesn't mean that everything you do has to live up to that standard. We take our inspiration from the best of each other. That's what inspiration is. In spite of your flaws, or perhaps because of them, you have had the courage to face this challenge publicly. Should it be surprising if that act inspires people in some way? Be well, old friend.

  4. As far as "Anonymous" and their incredibly insensitive and mean-spirited comment: I see no virtue in 'style and grace' if it means silencing your own voice. We do live in America right? As far as I know the Taliban aren't out to flog women who speak their truth. I applaud Rica for showing us what it's like to go through this horrendous ordeal. I think healing occurs in a myriad of ways and one essential tool is being able to share your journey without having some random person too cowardly to put their own name flame someone fighting cancer. "Anonymous" you should be ashamed.If style and grace is what you value, you're in trouble. I see no sign of either in your cold response.

  5. splatt@post.harvard.eduOctober 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Seriously, it takes a lot of grace to anonymously bash someone trying to do something good. I think energy can be best used to make things good, not try to bring someone else down.

  6. Rica, you are an inspiration to those who are afraid to fight or afraid to speak their minds. As Jody said it's fabulous that you are sharing with everyone what you are going through to help us understand better. I know you are mature enough to ignore the ignorant comments made immature people who feel the need to hide. You know we love you!

  7. There are many ways to deal with cancer, depending on personality and circumstance. I know one person who has kept it a secret from everyone but her immediate family. In part, it's because she's a private person and considers it nobody else's business, and in part, she has a responsible professional position which she doesn't want to jeopardize. For some, cancer is frightening, and talking about it is to be avoided. For others, they are afraid that others will react as though cancer was contagious, like leprosy. For Rica, with all the fear that goes with cancer, not to mention the discomfort, the best thing she feels she can do is let the world know that you can - you have to - fight it. For her, this is best done openly. But, as she said, each person's journey is different, and intensely personal. In what she's doing, she reminds me of my favorite President, Harry Truman. You knew exactly where you stood with him because he was standing right there in front of you and telling you to your face.

  8. Oh, yeah. One other thing, I've never posted anything anonymously. If I believe something strongly enough to say it, I have no problem with letting everyone know that it was me saying it.

  9. Gee, Richard, that sounds like something my father would say. ;)

    If there is any doubt out there as to where I got my philosophy from, there it is in black and white.

  10. Sounds like somebody I'd like to meet. ;->


I'm all about free speech, etc, but I have to ask that comments are respectful of other readers, the fact that I, and many of us who follow this blog, support LIVESTRONG, and that you reserve Lance or LIVESTRONG bashing for another forum. As of right now, I'm still allowing Anonymous postings, however, that may not be the case in the future. Thanks!