Social media expand circle of supporters


I don’t know how much you know about Twitter. It’s kind of a free-for-all chat land where you don’t have to follow anyone you don’t want to, but depending on what you tweet out and #hashtag certain tweets are pushed into your “feed.”

I  #stage4cancer quite often and therefore most of the other folks that do that as well are presented in my “feed” for my viewing and “re-tweeting” pleasure.

One such tweet that was pushed into my feed recently has really been on my mind. So much so, that like most things that niggle at my brain, I feel compelled to write about it.

The tweet in question had to do with media tending to portray only “happy ending” stories when it comes to cancer, suggesting that “unhappy endings” are less palatable to the public.

Why did this stick in my craw and bother me so much? I really had to think about it for a while. It really annoyed me—and not in the way you may be thinking it did. It made me angry because the news media covered my story despite the fact that my destiny is tenuous and I insist on having a happy ending despite what the public or other #stage4cancer sufferers may think about it.

I guess you have to decide what constitutes a “happy ending.” Some people say that endings are never happy, it’s the beginning and middle that contain the joy.

Others profess that endings aren’t happy if things don’t turn out the way you want them to or end on your terms. Or it’s not happy if it’s not fair. That’s a good one.

OK, those are all logical statements I suppose.

According to those schools of thought, I am not going to experience a happy ending because I most likely will succumb to my Stage 4 cancer and that is definitely not the way I want things to turn out or end. And not fair? Don’t even go there with me!

The thing is, I don’t subscribe to any of that thinking. Cancer has taken much from me and I will be darned if I will allow it to take my happy ending, or rob my family of their rightful happy endings as well. I think one can get so wrapped up in the unfairness of it all that they relinquish control of their emotional destiny.

Don’t get me wrong, I am sorely ticked off that my life may be shortened and I may be denied the gift of experiencing all the things that life has to offer. Lingering on those feelings, though, fosters bitterness and bitterness is contagious, as is sorrow. I think we set the tone for our whole lives, including the ending.

I certainly don’t want people saying that I remained bitter and angry until the end. Wow. Wouldn’t that be a burdensome legacy to leave for my children? I have chosen to get over it and just be happy. It is a lesson my sister taught me when she was taking care of me during my treatments “Choose happy over crappy.”

I don’t think there could be a more impactful lesson to teach my children. We don’t like what is happening to me, people will be sad for a while if it takes my life, but we can’t allow sadness to rule over any of our lives now or then. My family deserves a happy life until their own ending, not mine.

I don’t want people to be sad forever when my breath has ceased. I want them to think of me, tell stories about the ridiculous things I have done and laugh remembering me—realizing that life is not fair, things don’t always turn out how we want or on our own terms. But the happy ending, the way I C it, is completely optional.

Michele Longabaugh, a wife, mother and nurse from Wichita, is the author of “If You’re Not Laughing, You’re Dying,” a reprint of her blog depicting her story of fighting Stage 4 Anal Cancer. Visit her website at 52shadesofblue.com


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