Sometimes you get really lucky - and you meet someone with whom you find a deep personal connection and a powerful friendship forms. Scott Hamilton has become that kind of friend. We share a passion to help others - especially those who have cancer.
Yesterday, Scott and I had the opportunity to share the podium to speak to over 400 cancer survivors - sharing our own personal story and encouraging our audience to share their stories to help others in the journey. The hotel ballroom was filled with women from all over the Country in various stages of cancer: some in remission, some in recurrence, others in active treatment. The key message was simple - medicine may offer a cure - but our real emotional healing comes when we share our stories.
I met so many strong women whose stories were inspiring. In their eyes, I saw strength. I saw pain. I saw joy. I saw character. I saw hope. I saw gratitude. I was reminded of that there's no dress rehearsal in life, we get one shot - so make it count.
We all have our stories. If we share them, they can inspire. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share our story, we open hearts and minds to possibility. We ignite hope. We share deep insight.
There were five key points from our discussion I'd like to share:
- Our stories are what keep us human when dealing with a complex disease - otherwise, we become little more than a medical record number within the healthcare system. Our stories allow medical practitioners to see the human first - not the disease.
- Our stories can connect us with others who share the same illness or a similar journey. These connections remind us we are not alone. They form bonds of support that transcend time and distance.
- Our stories move hearts and cause others to think more deeply about the issues, the policies, and the realities of healthcare. Decisions about coverage, pre-existing conditions and insurance aren't nearly so simple when they are personified with names and faces.
- Our stories can unite us as a community in powerful ways - and become a force for change.
- Our stories are our legacy - they amplify our journey. They have meaning for us, for our families, and for the survivor community. They hold deep lessons for those yet unnamed souls who will hear these words "you have cancer..." And when they do, our story could be the spark of hope or the source of courage.
Scott and I go together like "peanut butter and chocolate" - or that was at least what our team thought. They presented us with lots of Reese's Cups. Scott is the chocolate - I'm the peanut butter. Together, we shared a magical moment, and I left the stage feeling gratitude. The audience was the real teacher. And all the learning of the day was wrapped inside their stories.