Through social media I discovered a couple of women about my age who share my diagnosis (The Stage 4 Literal Shitshow). Both of these two women were diagnosed earlier and are a little further down the ‘living with cancer’ pathway. Naturally my curiosity and need to find someone else in the same position drew me to deep-dive their instagram accounts.

Initially I was so relieved to see these two women living their best cancer lives, several years post-diagnosis. They seemed to be flourishing despite their illnesses and beyond that, had managed to find space and energy to become the poster women for bowel cancer.

Between them they: host a regular podcast about the experience of hospital patients, are in the process of writing their first book, make regular appearances on television to promote bowel cancer awareness, hold down paid employment, represent patients on various hospital committees as well applying to become a board member of the Cancer Council.

At first I just felt so impressed with these powerhouse women who do all of the things. Their commitment to patient advocacy is just incredible.

But then I started to wonder…what the hell am I doing with my time?? Why don’t I have the energy or the inclination to do any of this stuff?? Should I be making more of an effort? How do I do better at having cancer?!!

Chill, dickhead. Once again, you’ve silently entered yourself into a non-existent competition – The Cancer Olympics. And you’ve established that the non-existent rules mean that being solely responsible for bowel cancer publicity and improving patient care outcomes is the object of the event.

How many imaginary competitions do we subscribe to in our daily lives? Not just since having a chronic illness. Why are we so hard on ourselves? It’s not like I need to add pressure to this situation.

I’m good at other shit. I make people laugh. I write this hugely famous blog* that has almost hit double figure subscriptions. I can tell a good story. I can get stuff down off high shelves for old people at the supermarket. I learnt to become a better leader in my workplace. I am decisive when ordering at restaurants. At yoga, I have learnt to direct my breathing to different parts of my body. I can look in a fridge and pull together a decent meal from its contents. I can do that impressive card shuffling thing where you split the deck and then concertina the cards into each other. I write thoughtful messages on greeting cards. I notice other people’s qualities and try to remember to compliment them in a really specific way. I’m punctual. I’m honest and I’m real (to the point of others’ discomfort).

I admire these women. They are doing important work for which I am incredibly grateful.

I’m just a different brand of athlete in the Cancer Olympics. And I’m doing all right.

* a blog that even Bowel Cancer Australia won’t share due to its offensive name and sweary content – trust me, I’ve tagged them multiple times.

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6 thoughts on “The Cancer Olympics

  1. Chris Frost says:

    I’m glad you ended this post on a high note for yourself ! I love having coffee with you and your uncontrollable humour always brightens up my day . Thank you Kristie you deserve only the best ❤️

  2. So pleased you pointed out all your amazing qualities – cos the list is impressively long. You are definitely doing alright babe! You’re awesome. Keep fighting babe ❤️

  3. Karen Partington says:

    You are a powerhouse woman. It’s not just those two Insta-stars…who are clearly also powerhouse women. You are the original powerhouse woman in our lives. Keep it up.

  4. Sandra McBride says:

    Such amazing qualities. You are doing heaps and I think you’re pretty amazing. However I always thought you were amazing even before this diagnosis. It does not define you.

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