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You Can Connect Guidelines

We're all here for similar reasons - we've been touched by cancer in some way. It’s up to all of us to show each other that no one is alone. Your You Can Connect profile is your own place to call home during this crazy thing called cancer, we just ask that you keep these simple guidelines in mind when participating.

1. Always Be Nice. This is a place for connections and conversations – we encourage you all to talk openly but please remain considerate in all of your engagement. Don’t post obscene, hateful or objectionable content. Abuse and disrespect will not be tolerated in the You Can Connect community and is subject to deletion and user removal at our discretion.

2. Be a Good Friend. The You Can Connect community is a family. Please remember to be a good friend to the connections you make on You Can Connect. Ask questions that you wish someone would ask you; if you can’t find the right words to say, send a hug, it can speak louder than words. A simple gesture goes a long way.

3. Don't Spam. This includes sending unsolicited messages of any nature, posting links to unrelated content, promoting a survey, fundraiser or product where it shouldn’t be promoted. If you aren’t sure if something is appropriate to post, e-mail us and we’ll let you know.

4. Think Before You Post. Everything you post on You Can Connect is secure, but it is up to you to monitor how much or how little information you are sharing about yourself and your experience. Please don’t share personal or identifiable information like your mailing address or your full name and don’t share other member’s information.

5. If You See Something, Say Something. We work hard to make sure these guidelines are followed closely but if you see something that doesn’t’ feel right to you, please let us know. We review every report we receive and will take anything you say to heart. We promise.

6. Be Open. Welcome newcomers and help guide them through this journey based on your own experience. Whether you are a survivor, fighter, caregiver or supporter, you have valuable information that can very well help someone else who is just beginning the cancer journey. Be open to sharing experiences and give someone else the gift of your time.

Thanks for being a part of our community. It’s up to all of us to ensure that You Can Connect remains a place for us all to call home when dealing with the ups and downs of a cancer diagnosis.

Alyssa_Mae1331's picture
Alyssa_Mae1331 Connect

Patient: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Someday I would like to look back and consider my experience with cancer as “graceful” and “inspiring” as I’m told I have been through it all. Honestly though, from the trenches right now it certainly doesn't feel like it has been... I wish that fighting everyday to keep my head out of the toilet and off of a pillow was graceful. I wish that trying to convince myself every night I couldn't sleep that I wouldn't die was inspiring. It isn’t; it completely sucks. The overwhelming feeling of frustration doesn't necessarily seem graceful to me either. With cancer, nothing feels “normal.” It's difficult to avoid isolating yourself and to reach out while you’re feeling like a burden at the same time. It’s hard to keep others informed and updated without drawing in too much attention or attracting the labels of “sick” or “incapable.” Everyone is watching me. My moods, my posture, my outlook, my appetite, my thoughts - every part of me is being babysat. It isn’t just my health that is being monitored. For a time I felt as though I was on the cancer edition of the Truman Show, and that made me feel even more crazy. When I really think about it, that is the hardest part of all of this… the “crazy.” The pressure I was putting on myself to be positive and strong was crippling. I had never realized before exactly how overpowering the emotions of hopelessness and defeat were. Sure, I was putting on smiles for my family, friends, and oncology team but when it was just myself and I, I knew the reality of my own thoughts. I had never been in those dark corners of my mind before, and I almost didn't recognize the girl who was fetal positioned in them. I knew that my best attempts at being positive weren’t good enough. I realized that I couldn’t afford to just ‘attempt’ or ‘try’ anymore. Clearly, I wasn’t going to be happy about having cancer, but I knew there were still things to be happy about everyday. I have always tried to be a silver linings kind of girl. I find the best of everyone and every situation. However, cancer has taught me that I am not always that way with myself. I was heartbroken when I lost my hair. I had to learn how to draw on my eyebrows and make it look like I still had eyelashes. It was an interesting adjustment, and one that I struggled with at one of the deepest levels. One morning, though I learned to appreciate waking up without rings on my wrist from elastics and not having pins and needles in my fingers. I learned to appreciate that I was no longer stepping on Bobby pins I had lost.. Heck, I could even walk around all day looking surprised if I wanted to, and I certainly didn't have to worry about taking up too much time drying or doing my hair. I was finally logging things onto the pro column. Even after that breakthrough though, it has still been quite a struggle to maintain positivity and normalcy in social interactions. I’ve learned that it’s hard to be positive when you feel so awkward and unsure of yourself. Compliments should be a great thing, but how was I supposed to appreciate them or respond to them when I saw a different truth? People still tell me how great my haircut looks. I also hear “You look so skinny! What are you doing?” a lot. It’s a wig. I'm hiding my pale, naked scalp. And I throw up all day everyday and I can only sometimes keep down ginger ale and saltines. Of course, my exercise routine is effective too... I can barely make it up and down the stairs without getting fatigued. And my favorite thing I’ve heard?; “You’re lucky, you don’t look sick” … Thank you. I feel very “lucky” to have cancer, and I’m glad that my newly-acquired makeup skills are effectively shielding you from my reality. I really didn’t want to mask myself or my experience with lies or sarcasm. I wanted to be around people, but it’s hard feeling so out of place with people who could never truly understand the chaos that was going on in my head. At one point there came a numbness. I wasn’t quite sure if it was me coping, or if it was shock, or the medicine. Even numb it felt like chaos. It didn't feel like it was my life any more. I still didn't recognize myself or my thoughts. I didn't recognize my actions. I was utterly lost, and I didn't even know where to begin to find myself again. I had to accept the fact that I couldn't change what was happening to me. I couldn’t keep blaming myself. I couldn’t keep trying to exile this new part of me. It has taken a lot of time and persuading, but cancer is becoming a part of my identity. Cancer has killed my confidence, but also restored it. Cancer has made me my weakest, but has also made me realize my strength. Cancer has made me feel guilty and uncertain, but has helped me to find hopes and dreams I didn’t know existed. In the end, cancer has taught me a very important lesson: Though this experience has made me lose parts of myself, I have found new ones - ones that make me feel more graceful and truly inspire me.

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