Once upon a time, there was a girl from Galway. She grew up the youngest of five children, in a loving home. Life followed its usual path from childhood to young adult, with all the “normal” challenges and joys of teenage years…. angst and insecurities thrown in for good measure. But young adulthood put this Galway girl to the test. Losing her Mum, moving to America, getting married, getting divorced all in her twenties….well as they say, what won’t kill you, makes you stronger. And it did. Thankfully! Because the decade prior to her diagnosis, delivered even more challenges. Ones that could rock your foundation, if you let it.
But SHE didn’t. This Galway girl used each devastating loss to build herself up, and to NOT let these challenges tear her down. Now, I could list the losses that she had, but then it would end up sounding like an Irish ballad, or a bad country song. So let’s just say, what she learned in dealing with these significant challenges, prepared her for the day she heard the words…..”it’s cancer”. Instead of saying “Why me?”, she responded “Why not me”.
Bare with me folks….we’re getting to the feel good part very soon.
So this Galway girl got diagnosed with pretty invasive, and aggressive breast cancer at the age of 47 (which really makes her a Galway middle aged woman, but that doesn’t sound half as good as Galway girl ;-)) And her attitude was that of a Celtic Warrior. She had the fight within her, with the humor that is inherent and genetic to the Irish. Plus she had a tribe that ALWAYS had her back.
And in the three years since she heard those words, she took what she had learned dealing with her previous challenges and losses……and she went out in to the world to help others going through the same storm she was going through. And here’s the feel good part people …..it’s what made her an improved version of herself. It’s what “FILLED her up” and helped HER get through the storm. What made her feel good, was the act of helping others to feel good, to feel cared for, and to never feel alone.
This Galway girl went WAY beyond her comfort zone, and put herself out into social media, on to TV, into calendars celebrating women who have gone through breast cancer, reconstruction and all the treatments in between. She ran and biked to raise money for research and free services for the cancer community. She even stood in front of large groups and told her story……which terrified her. Not the story, but the standing up in front of people part. All to inspire, as she had been inspired by other amazing women she followed in real life and on social media. You see….this Galway girl learned that when women get together, amazing and inspirational things can happen. Not that guys aren’t brilliant either. Because you are. And let’s remember, 1% of males get breast cancer too, so dudes…..check your pecs. But 1 in 8 women will receive a BC diagnosis, and of those, 1 in 3 will have it metastasize. These are not feel good numbers, but they are a fact. And the feel good part, is that we talk about it. We educate about it. As the Buddy2Buddy camping slogan states “We encourage all women to take control of their own breast health, and inspire their buddies to do the same”. The feel good part is that we come together as a community, to raise awareness and money for research and services.
And because this Seanchai (Gaelic for an Irish Storyteller) could go on forever…..I will try to sum this story up. Within our lives, we are given challenges. We can face those, or we can run screaming in the opposite direction. It’s our choice. And it’s also our choice in how we handle those challenges. How we FIND the silver linings. How we see the humor in hard situations, and use that humor to get us (and those around us) through the Shite storm. That’s the feel good part of this story. This Galway girl feels good when she can make another person laugh, feel supported and give them strength to get through THEIR storm. Cancer did not define HER. She defined IT. Throughout this journey, this Galway Girl has learned that she is the strongest woman that she knows.
Her story is still evolving. This is but a chapter in her life. This is certainly NOT the end.
To be continued……
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