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MLK Inspiration Week at coaching by tambre continues.  All this week I am posting blogs inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quotes and finding in them a nugget that can help cancer survivors, caregivers and others facing major life transitions.  Today’s quote is:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anyone who knows me or who has read my posts on perfectionism gets that I am a highly organized person.  I do my research and I’m as prepared as possible.  In the days leading up to Gary’s first chemo treatment, I put together a binder that would become our cancer treatment bible.  Section one for contact information.  Section two was for weekly blood tests and cell counts.  Section three contained background research.  Section four was my new grocery list of everything organic, sugar and wheat free that I would need to prepare our healthier menus.

Maybe I couldn’t organize Gary’s cancer cells into a cooperative, contained group but I could most certainly manage the information we would need to send them fleeing from our lives.

We arrived on time and full of fear of the unknown for the first treatment.  Gary was focused and ready to begin.  His oncology nurse, Karen, who would be with us throughout the six months, put him through the usual weigh in, lab checks, temperature and blood pressure readings.  Everything was a go…except the ABVD, the chemo cocktail he was to receive.  Someone had failed to notify the pharmacy.  It would now be about two hours until it was ready.

The immediate solution was underway, but I couldn’t be silent about something that mattered so much.  This couldn’t be our experience every week.  So I pulled Karen aside and asked what steps I could take to prevent this in the future.  She gave me Gary’s prescription number and the contact at the pharmacy.  Call around 6am every treatment day before you drive here and confirm the prescription is being processed.  Without fail, and to the mild annoyance of the pharmacy, I called like clockwork every two weeks.  We never had an issue again.

Most caregivers learn early on how proactive they need to be even with the best treatment programs.  Our loved one cannot afford for us to be silent.  Not only because it is important to get their needs met but also because the effort embodies caring and the energy of having a partner in the fight against cancer.  Failing to speak up on their behalf reflects the energy of giving up or apathy.

We can speak up from a place of compassion.  There is rarely a need to use anger or conflict to resolve a situation with medical providers that isn’t working.  But to remain silent can translate into feeling defeated.  It’s about finding the balance between ensuring your loved one gets what they need to go through treatment with as few speed bumps as possible and doing so in a way that doesn’t alienate their medical team.

Your life together does not begin to end with a diagnosis of cancer.  It does require that you not stay silent about the important matters.  It can be challenging to have what may seem like a confrontational conversation with degreed doctors and other medical experts. However, if you present your concern from the heart, it merely becomes a compassionate communication that reflects the love you have for the person in your life who has been diagnosed.

Whether cancer has touched your life or not, ask yourself “what matters of importance are you remaining silent on?”

  • How is doing so disengaging you from yourself, others and living the life you desire and deserve?
  • How is being silent costing you?
  • If you fully engaged in a conversation that mattered to you, how might your life be different?

Your call to action this week is to take on one conversation that matters.  Do so and you can welcome yourself to the journey of living a more authentic life.

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