Maybe you have come across the latest People featuring Joan Lunden, the Good Morning American host, donning her fashionably bald head for the world to see talking about her experience with cancer; if you haven’t come across this particular issue I would venture a guess and say that you have come across some cover at one time or another featuring a famous celebrity talking about their fight with cancer. Now these people featured on the covers of magazines are already celebrities, but one could argue that having cancer in some ways makes you a “cancerlebrity” because most of the focus of your family and friends falls on you. You often find that you have become the topic of conversation or unwittingly the center of attention. Once the news of your diagnosis travels the grapevine and goes viral, you in fact have become a “cancerlebrity”.
At first, I wasn’t sure of my new found stardom. I didn’t necessary shy away from people knowing that I had cancer, but I was uncomfortable with all of the attention. In the beginning, everywhere I went people were either hugging me or crying or asking me really personal questions. It took some time to adjust to the “people-razzi”. It wasn’t long before I no longer cared who knew I had cancer, as long as what they knew was accurate. I am not a fan of the tabloid information that somehow gets into circulation. There was at least once where I had to actually use my facebook page to make an announcement about my situation to dispel rumors. I labored over the statement because I have never been one to publicly post about my private life, hence why my “cancerlebrity” status took some time to adjust to.
However when the cancer center asked me to take part in their website by doing a video interview, I couldn’t say no. I didn’t exactly want to be known for my cancer diagnosis, but I also wanted to give back to a community that had done so much for me over the past few months and talking about my experience on video was the least I could do. I remember trying to find the perfect outfit for the occasion, after all it would be immortalized on the web. I was nervous, it was after all my first real public appearance. They asked the questions and I answered with my usual positivity and smile (which they commented on of course).
It wasn’t until after ABVD (my first line of chemo) failed that I went public with my blog. It became my therapy. I found that I needed to put my story out there for me and anyone else who may want to take the time to read it and hell if it makes even one person feel like they aren’t alone, or laughs at a familiar situation, or can just identify with my experience than it has served an even greater purpose than what it has done for me personally. I never expected my blog to draw so much attention at the center, that’s why I was surprised when Elaine asked me to read ‘The Chair” at their wine tasting fundraiser event – Taste of Life. I was even more surprised that members of my community loved the blog and were even forming their own fan club. My two biggest fans, Becky and Maria, even stopped for photo ops. It is really nice to know that I have the support of my family,friends and community as I go through this.
I honestly “hemmed and hawed” over whether or not I would embrace my “cancerlebrity” status and actually public read my blog at the event, where all of the ‘big wigs’ would be. Despite my historical stage fright, I thought it was something I should do to “pay it forward” and once again support the center and the community that has done so much for me. Plus I figured if I threw up from nerves I could blame it on the cancer. My boyfriend assured me that would not happen and I would be fine once I arrived. He was right, once I got to the event and had a few tastes of wine, I was fine. I couldn’t wait to see Julie, who offered to stand up there with me as I read ‘The Chair”. It was nice to see her and Marie and the others outside of the infusion room. It was a lovely event and I was completely taken by surprise when I was given a Berkshire Heroes award for my positivity and inspiring nature. I was not at all surprised when Julie received the Berkshire Heroes Professional Award for her exceptional care and supportive nature. She invests in her patients and we in return invest in her and our new friendship. I love that my best friend Steph also knows and loves Julie and so do my parents, it means more than people realize. We all feel the same way about Z. In so many ways he should be honored repeatedly for his amazing care as a doctor. He really gets to know his patients and does what is best for them on an individual basis. I couldn’t ask for a better doctor and I’m so glad that my original ‘meet cute’ went so well. After all he too is a celebrity.
Cancer creates a lot of celebrities in the actual patient, the professionals who are responsible for treatment, caregivers, and everyday family and friends. So together we all embrace our “cancerlebrity” statuses and keep moving forward!