The Gift of Cancer

bird of paradiseI love what I do as a coach. I love what I do because I get to connect with people and for a few brief moments I get to touch, see, feel humanity in its purest form. In my workshops, I teach people how to get out of their own way. How to let go of some of the baggage that they have been carrying around. How to change that voice in their head that tells them that they are not good enough, smart enough, thin enough…

We are playing a game and I tell the participants that I will go first. I say that I’m going to be vulnerable with them because good leaders lead by example. I tell them that I am doing this as I will be asking them to do the same.

This is scary for me: I’m going to talk about my breast cancer. It’s still hard for me to talk openly about this to people I don’t know and I have 2 hours to get through to them because this is what I get paid for.

This happened last night.  I talk about my breast cancer and how scary my journey has been. When I reveal this, it softens them. I have just come out in a big way. Their body language changes. Their masks drop from polite attentiveness to empathy and they are ready to share too.

Then it’s their turn and each person reveals something about themselves. We bond through our vulnerabilities and the armor that has weighed them down is lighter than when they first walk in.  Their humanity starts to shine through because they feel safe and can be themselves, human and flawed. We realize that we are all in the same boat.

By the end of two hours, I know these people and they are no longer strangers. People are eager to talk to me after class and want to chat as if we’re friends catching up. That is the gift of cancer, I am more human and flawed than ever and there is beauty in that.

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