What is Bravery?

I was down having my usual fortnightly blood test, when I ran into a person I used to work with. This was good, because I had been worried about her, she had been seriously ill and was close to death.

I was so happy to see how she was going and to make sure she was okay. I wanted to ensure that she was alright at work and to just let her know that if there was anything she needed, call me.  I don’t live too far away, so it’s no big deal.

She was doing alright, she was getting better, and when I said that it was such a huge thing for someone so young to go through and that I had prayed for her, she was a bit taken aback. I wasn’t sure if it was that I said I had prayed for her. Or if the strange thing was that had prayed for her ( I am a bit of a Philistine, but the Church going girl comes out in my sometimes), so I said that yes I do pray for people and light candles for them and if it’s really bad get a Mass said for them.

She was even more surprised, and said it wasn’t that…It was that I have my own journey, and that I should be worried about me and not her. Why I wondered? I told her not to be silly and that helping others out, is my way of paying it forward.

She then told me that I was the bravest woman that she knows.  Hmm, let me think? Why am I so brave?  This set me wondering about the amount of people who say that I am brave, who actually in general say all people who go through some kind of struggle are brave.  So I asked her why would she think that I am brave?

Response: You have been through so much and you are still fighting your battle and you just don’t quit. How can you help other people, when you need so much help. You are brave because you have cancer and you are doing everything you can to be brave.

Oh dear, back up…I am brave because I have cancer? It made me realise that maybe all the times people talk about bravery and courage, when speaking of those with cancer, they just think you are brave for being alive.

I am not brave because I have cancer. It is not a courageous fight, because cancer fights dirty. But to use those terms together…really? I suppose it’s better than saying the unfortunate one who got cancer out of the family. The unlucky bugger who spent too long in the sun. The  stupid person who smoked 2 packs a day.If you change brave for silly, unlucky, small percentage, high risk factor it sounds so much better.

But I and others are not brave because we have cancer, we are unfortunate, the courage and bravery that so many people have is a part of them. They are the people who would be doing for others even without the cancer. They are of that personality. Look at the people who have a diagnosis and are ready to chuck in the towel. They maybe are defeatist or realists or maybe they just don’t have the courage to fight. What’s that? That work again. courage. It is over used so many times when it comes to illness.

I am not brave or courageous because I haven’t died yet from cancer. I am not those things because I have tried to stay alive. Lets be honest. I am not a brave person. I am just a woman, trying her damnedest to stay alive to watch her children become adults.  A brave person to me is someone who fights for  others and fights against the odds. My mother and Grandmother were brave women. They fought against a system that treated my people like lesser human beings. My mum fought against a system that said she couldn’t marry my da, because she was Aboriginal and he was white.

Bravery is the woman who against all odds comes through the other end, still standing or barely standing and says I am here.

I am not brave I am a survivor, a human cockroach if you will, I am not going to let anything get in my way to watching my children become adults and hopefully give me some grandchildren to hold.

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About proudblacksista

An Aboriginal woman. mother of 4 diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour 7 years ago.I want to share my story to help others. I am working to help other Aboriginal people face the battles of Cancer. Email me with your stories or concerns at aboriginalcancer.com View all posts by proudblacksista

2 responses to “What is Bravery?

  • Kate Bowles

    I totally get this. Sometimes I think people who say we’re brave for just for having cancer and not going crazy in the street are really talking about their own fears. I’m sure we both shared those fears before cancer actually showed up: fears that when this big thing happens, we’ll fold. But most other cancer patients I’ve met take the approach that once it’s happened, it’s just a reality, like other realities. You don’t fold, time keeps moving.

    I was just thinking of you and wondering how you were. Good to read this and the last one. I’ve recommended your blog to a friend of mine whose cancer has now appeared in her brain, which isn’t always the best news in the world.

    And I really needed to read this just now: that we’re looking for our children to get on and be their own selves, with their own families. Thanks, that was timely for me.

    Cockroaches! That’s very funny. There should be a badge.

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