About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Ovarian Cancer. I am happy to report that I am now cancer-free. However, it is an understatement to say that the experience was quite profound.
Among the many issues I reflected on during my treatment was the act of asking for help. As an independent woman, it was extremely challenging for me to find myself in the position of not being able to take care of myself. After surgery and ensuing complications, I couldn’t do my own laundry, get in or out of the bath, or even cook a meal in the morning without exhausting myself. Once chemo started and the fatigue kicked in, it was an effort to simply walk across a room.
I tried to power through – really I did – but I suffered for it, one time even ending up back in the hospital after allowing myself to get too dehydrated.
A Tough Lesson
I learned a tough lesson about having the courage to ask for help. Yes – it takes courage and bravery to ask for what you need, in great part because you must overcome your own fears! I feared being rejected. I feared that no one would be available or even want to help me. I feared being a burden on others. I feared being witnessed by my friends and community members in such a weakened state. I feared my own weakness and desperate need.
Nevertheless, I knew that if I didn’t reach out for help, I would be in literal physical danger – falling in the bathroom, collapsing in my kitchen, getting an infection, dehydration, etc. – all were a distinct possibility. Realistically, I had no choice but to ask for help.
So, I screwed up my courage and reached out. I started with my closest neighbors and friends. Then I posted on Facebook about my ordeal and asked for assistance. I reached out to family far away, and they came to my aid.
Ask Once, Then Ask Again
A couple of times, I had to return to this ritual of asking. People get busy, the news cycle moves on and I noticed that my requests would fall onto people’s back-burners. So, I would ask again – reminding people I was here and still needed the help.
And, to my relief, they showed up! I had rides to chemo appointments. I had food in my freezer. I had friends to walk my dog. Not to mention the people closest to me who emptied my commode, helped me in and out of the tub and changed my bandages for me.
Through all of this, it became starkly clear: no matter how strong you think you are, no matter how independent, no matter how much you think you can handle – there will be times in your life when the bravery you need in the moment is the bravery to call out for help, and the grace to accept it when it is offered.
Bravery comes in many forms. Where in your life do you most need to feel brave right now? The answer might surprise you.
Need help asking for what you want? Consider joining the SHINE Group Coaching Calls starting this month!