Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Speaking the Unspeakable

What do you want to talk about?  Are there things that you would like to discuss with people since you’re diagnosis?  Have you found that when you broach the topic people either make excuses to leave the room or change the topic?   It’s like the episode of “Sex and the City” where Samantha is talking about her illness with Carrie and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) tries to change the subject.  Samantha says, “Please let me talk about what I’m afraid of”.  That changed the conversation and probably their relationship forever.

Last week on “The Jeff Probst Show” he had Jennifer Gilbert as a guest.  She had been brutally attacked over twenty years ago.  On the show she discussed not only the horror of the attack but the lingering effects of the attack lasting over twenty years.

As Gilbert shared she never discussed the attack with her family.  She held the enormously disturbing impact to herself, keeping it all in and as result creating new rules about how to live life.

Gilbert went on to get married and have a family.  She gave birth to twin boys and unfortunately one of the boys was diagnosed with alopecia.  Alopecia is obviously quite visible and hard to ignore, and yet the family did a good job of not discussing the obvious.  One day when Gilbert returned home her daughter came to her and said, “Mommy, (one of the kids who came to play) came over and broke the rule?”  Gilbert in all her wisdom asked what rule?  Her daughter said, “The rule that we don’t speak about (her brother’s) baldness”.  It hit Gilbert hard because she realized in that moment that she fostered an environment where they didn’t discuss difficult topics.

It was in that moment that Gilbert decided to change the rules.  She sat down with the kids and they talked about the child’s alopecia.  She said they have become a “bald proud” family.  She changed the rule and the dynamics of the family making it easier to discuss difficult situations.

How will you change the rules?  How will you make it known that you not only want to discuss your diagnosis/health challenge, but you need to discuss this change in your life?  It means taking a stand, bringing the diagnosis center stage, and feeling comfortable with the discomfort.  The reward is a dialogue creating support from friends and family.  It means you open your relationships to more open and honest communication.  It spotlights the love you have for those in your life and their willingness to engage with you on this level is the ultimate showing of love!  You will experience a new sense of freedom and lightness not having to hold all this energy within the confines of your body, mind, and spirit.  The new experience of life will serve you on your journey to health and healing.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, Storytelling

Oprah…Dr. Phil…Katie…Your Choice

Talk shows have become all the rage on television.  Every major network flooded the market this fall with new shows hoping to get your attention.  What are the networks doing?  They saw a huge opening with Oprah leaving network television and everyone is vying for your attention, and the advertising dollar.  If you watch the shows you’ll notice one thing for sure, they all have their own flavor and point-of-view.

So what would happen if you were going to be a guest on a talk show?  It’s not only what you would talk about, but also how you would handle yourself when on the show.  A lot of this depends on the show you choose, and if I were assigning you to a show it would be based on your demeanor and how you’re handling your health challenge.  I would look at how you’re living your life and that would determine the best host for what you’re showing the world.

If you’re continuously angry about your diagnosis, I might select “The Jerry Springer Show” or “Maury” because you could scream and throw things around the studio.  If you’re in need of gentle support and spiritual guidance, “Oprah” might be the best hope to guide you on that path.  If you’re in a bit of denial and need a bit of tough love, then “Dr. Phil” is your host.

If you were taking a quiz to match your journey to the tv host it would require that you take a personal inventory.  It means that you need to be honest and if you’re ok with your current stance in life, then you’ve got the correct host.  If you don’t like what you’re seeing and feel it’s getting in the way of getting better or getting well, then it’s time to make some changes.

You may not think that the world sees what you’re experiencing, but we’re a lot more transparent than we believe.  This transparency impacts how others respond to you just as a different television hosts would respond differently.  Is your point-of-view aiding your health and healing journey or it is a hindrance?   Who’s show would you thrive on, and do you need to make any changes?  If you really want to be on a talk show, go to the website and see if there’s a show they’re planning that matches your life experience.  Who knows, I may be writing about you after you make your talk show debut!

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

What If Your Story Made It To National Television?

I was watching “The Jeff Probst Show” yesterday with his special guest, supermodel, Paulina Porizkova.  The conversation centered on beauty in our culture and how it impacts us as a society.  During the interview Porizkova mentioned a woman she felt is truly beautiful.  The woman, Kelly Pozzoli, was Jeff Probst’s first guest.  Pozzoli is  a woman from St. Louis who is battling cervical cancer.  It just so happens that Probst had already planned an update with Pozzoli, so she was on standby on Skype.

When Probst checked in with Kelly Pozzoli, they discussed the ups and downs of dealing with a life-threatening illness, along with her current treatment strategies.  Her upbeat demeanor and determination for recovery is inspiring.  She even revealed a rather invasive treatment strategy that she’s considering since chemotherapy hasn’t had the impact she or her medical team would like.

While Probst was wrapping up this segment of the show he mentioned that along with checking in with Pozzoli, following her journey, that two oncologists had contacted the show and wanted to review Pozzoli’s chart to see if there was anything they could offer this new celebrity.

I started thinking about what would your life be like if your story made it to national television.  Who would see your story and want to extend their expertise to help you on your journey to health and healing?  How would your life change if the country could support your, even if just virtually?

It definitely changes the playing field to have the world know your struggles and triumphs.  You may not be able to get on national television, but I’m wondering what can you do to expand your world?  How could you rally the support you need to get better or get well?  It’s interesting that we, the audience, get to travel the journey with Kelly Pozzoli, how can we follow you?  What would it mean to you to have mega-support?