First there were deployments and living the army life. I'd get alot of comments from the civilian folks that went something like this: "I just don't know how you deal with that. I can't imagine it. You are just so strong."
And at times, that drove me bananas. Because I wasn't always strong. I had days when I'd be sad or angry or fed up, and I needed to vent and say all the things I wasn't supposed to say.
If I said those things to a civilian person, they just could not relate. At all. And often I came out feeling like I wasn't being "strong" enough.
Then I found my fellow army ladies. And I could go to them and just let all the verbal vomit come out. I could rail against the army and the stupid war and how I was SICK AND TIRED OF KILLING BUGS AND WHY WASN'T CHRIS THERE TO JUST DO IT FOR ME!
You know what? They listened. They gave me a hug. They helped me put things in perspective (and even told me I was wrong sometimes). They reminded me that I WAS stronger than I thought I was and that I COULD get through this. And then the poured me a glass of wine and the next day I woke up feeling light at heart and ready to face the challenges ahead.
The Army and deployments, for all the hard times, taught me a very important lesson about support. It taught me how to accept support (which I'm kinda bad at) and it taught me to search out support in the form of people who are going through a similar experience, because they can give you some perspective that others cannot.
So OBVIOUSLY, when I was diagnosed with cancer, at first I kind of poo-poo'd the support groups ("they're all going to be old people! I have a TODDLER!"). Hey, I didn't claim to be a genius... sometimes I have to learn the same lesson twice.
That denial lasted about 2 weeks. Basically long enough for the shock to wear off. Then I found the young survivors coalition, and I found a few other young survivors that lived in Minneapolis. One of those girls actually came to my first surgeon's appointment with me. There's nothing quite as strange as showing several strangers your boobs and having one of them be a girl you JUST met like 2 minutes before hand.
She and I are still great friends and I value her SO much.
I've become friends with several survivors. And I value those friendships more than I can say. Not because we talk every day or even see each other more than once every 2-3 months. I value them because when I'm in need, they are there. They get it. They help me put things in perspective. Like telling me I'm an idiot when I'm letting my fears run rampant... and other times when I'm maybe not proactive enough.
They also share the same kind of dark humor about cancer that I do. I can joke about things with them that non-survivors would probably not find very funny.
It's this phenomenal outlet for me. And every time I spend time with these ladies or exchange texts with them, I feel lighter. I feel happier. I just feel... stronger.
So in July, my very good survivor buddy in Minneapolis asked if I wanted to do the Dirty Girl Mud run with a few other survivors. And I was like "HELL YES!"
And y'all? We had SO. MUCH. FUN!
First, 6 days before the run, we decided to run in costumes... because really? Why not? Why not do something silly and crazy and fun? When you've survived cancer, running around dressed like a crazy person seems like just another day.
And the costume idea started out as super heroes and morphed into... golden fairies?
Yes... we were a vision in gold. Don't believe me?
Granted... I think I'm still pulling sand and dirt out of random body parts a month later.
But to be honest, I can't wait to do it again next year :)
I love these ladies. LOVE THEM! And if you want to join Team Honey Badger at next year's dirty girl mud run, you don't HAVE to be a survivor... but you do have to come prepared to dress like an idiot and enjoy it!