Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday, usually focused on romantic love. But I wanted to write about love that is more universal. Courage is a word that comes to mind when I think of love. Wearing your heart on your sleeve. Heartbroken. Lovesick. That’s the downside. But it takes courage to love. To love people, our jobs, our bodies, our decisions, even our lives.
Even friendships take courage, especially when it comes with a cancer diagnosis.
When I first met Kate, her stage 4 diagnosis scared me. What if she died? That would be heartbreaking. I hesitated and then thought, I would never want someone to say that about me. That I wasn’t worth getting to know because I have cancer. I’m a nice person; I think I’m worth the effort to get to know me.
Putting it in this perspective allowed me to open my heart to Kate. And what an incredible friendship has come from that. We are literally shaking up the cancer world with our YouTube videos, “What to expect when you’re not expecting cancer,” and Facebook posts, unveiling the curtain on what it’s like to be young, moms, and have metastatic cancer.
But even if we had done none of that, she’s been someone who instantly knows how I feel with only saying a few words. One of the kindest people I know and someone with so much love to give, that she dishes it out by the spoonful to people.
And to think I could have missed out on all of it, if I didn’t have courage.
Courage is doing something even when you’re scared.
I want to share other examples, when it comes to courage of people I know. Everyday courage of those who make the leap for love.
Courage is dating with a cancer diagnosis. First dates are already awkward. When do you bring up the whole cancer thing?
Courage is realizing that your marriage isn’t working. Divorce is not defeat. It is an opportunity for two hearts to love again, maybe this time, in ways they need.
Courage is following your dream to enter a new career because it’s something that you’ve always loved.
Courage is being asked all the time when you’re having kids of your own, but meanwhile, cancer has robbed you of making that decision.
Courage is looking your doctor in the eye when he tells you there’s a 50/50 chance of cancer recurrence if you go off medication to try for a baby.
Courage is opening your hearts to adoption after years of infertility and finding your miracle who just fits your family perfectly.
Courage is hearing that you should go to the fertility clinic right away because you’re “old” when trying to conceive your first child.
Courage is having cystic fibrosis and making the decision to have a baby, with the worry about not being able to physically provide like other dads. Meanwhile, not realizing, that you are going to be the most incredible dad.
Courage is being so open about your miscarriage, when so many women experience it, yet it’s taboo to talk about.
Courage is losing your child or your sibling and wondering how life will ever go on, but you do, still with such love, grace, and care for others.
These are my everyday heroes.
Love is worth it. Be courageous.