I’ve grown up with the understanding that the ENTIRE month of October is my birthday. Because my mom was studious in celebrating my existence every day of the year, October signaled double deliciousness. Of the few dregs of childhood whimsy I’ve managed to weave into adulthood, I still subscribe to October being my month-the WHOLE month. So, even though my birthday isn’t until Saturday, I am posting about my wish now. My birthday wish, if you feel so inclined to play along, is for us all to notice somebody marginalized. With current climates, there are a lot of people to choose from. Among the myriad subgroups made to feel invisible, I encourage you to see somebody you typically might not. Perhaps you’ll open the door for this person, or simply smile and nod. But just see the person, the connections among us and in whatever way resonates with you, recognize our shared humanity.
I would be honored if you would join me for another trip around the sun by following me on Instagram @brianabeaver1
“Suffering with joy.” I heard this phrase yesterday on the radio and it so clearly summarized what I believe the expectation is for women with chronic illness. Sweep your pain, exhaustion, confusion and well-justified anger under the rug for the comfort of everyone else. It comes as no surprise that society would expect women to consistently display a good-natured disposition; this is a normative gender expectation. However, the pressure to “find joy in the journey” graduates to magnificent proportions for women who have chronic illness. Every day, I am bombarded by Memes, inspirational posts and cliched representations of chronic illness. These are targeted toward women! They have pastel colors, feature adorable animals and are packaged in ways that are supposed to appeal to females. They make me cringe. I feel no guilt about my anger regarding chronic illness. I am entitled to be mad, sad, envious, depressed, cranky and every other emotion that feels authentic. I’ve been through some cataclysmic torture and that deserves recognition. So, I just want to encourage all of the women out there to feel safe in expressing the full spectrum of emotions. This is not negative, this is real life.
On a wintry day in December 2011, I shuffled into the building I’d been frequenting for the past several years for the last time. I turned in my undergraduate honors thesis, was promptly greeted by a cascade of silly string following me down the halls of my now alma mater and into the brisk, silent campus. I outreached my wingspan, all 84 pounds of my dwindling form shuddering in relief, in celebration, in pain. I would later climb a flight of stairs to share this occasion with a man I thought with whom I’d share many more. He’d caress my cheek, snuggle me close and be gone within only months. At the time, the celebration seemed to magnify in his presence, exponentially sparkling by the reflection of his lenses. But truly, deeply, the gratification and honor would only ever bloom inside of me.
In honor of childhood cancer awareness month, I am proud to present to you this #GetThePiccture feature by Kezia, the founder of CareALine Products. Because photos often wield a unique propensity for storytelling that words fail to convey, this feature will primarily unfold visually. I will add that Kezia and her daughter Saoirse were both diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Her daughter’s treatment challenges with chemotherapy spurred the innovation of the unique CareALine products I’ve had the opportunity to share with you all. As I reflect about this dynamic mother-daughter duo, I also take a few minutes to feel the intense emotions about the multitudes of children like Saoirse who have passed away in pursuit of saving their lives. Thank you Kezia for you willingness to share with us your story, your passion and incredible dedication to supporting those of us with central lines.