I found myself wondering a lot today about my writing and how I am portraying myself. An organization named Let's Win published my patient story and shared it on all of their social media channels. Since I want to help these orgs help more people, I shared their posts.
Then I started wondering. How are people viewing me? Am I becoming Burt, the cancer patient? As many of you know from having read other things I've written, I am not a cancer patient, I am Burt who happens to have cancer. That might be nuanced, but it's very important to me.
Cancer doesn't define who I am. I do! I am a guy who loves the outdoors, loves his family, loves baby animals (except snakes) is a big sports fan of the Blazers, and Chargers (not sure why but after 43 years I can't give up the pain) the Yankees (hate me if you must, but I am a native NYer), the Rangers and a guy who loves helping other people, breaking traditions and thinking differently.
To me, having cancer (and yes, I will only capitalize it at the beginning of a sentence) is akin to having eczema, Lyme disease, stomach issues, etc. It's another thing on the list. Does it have a higher degree of difficulty? No doubt. Has it taken over everything in my life? No. Has it influenced my life? Yes. Just like anything that happens (but slightly more than finding a new gluten-free vegan pizza!) influences my life. I might be minimizing it, but it's what I need to do to not let it take over.
So, if I were to make an ask it would just be this. Never consider someone a cancer patient, always consider them a person with cancer.