(The names of people in this article have been changed to protect people’s privacy.)
I saw a new friend of mine at my chiropractor’s office this morning. I’d seen her there before, but we had not talked much. Today we got a chance to get to know each other a bit. Sylvia’s quite a fascinating person.
She’s somewhere between 1 and 2 years old, although I’m not the best at judging that kind of thing. She was waiting for her mother to get a chiropractic treatment in the other room. She was walking, sitting, talking, and playing in the waiting room. Sometimes she’d talk to the office manager and me, and sometimes she’d just talk to herself, which she seemed to enjoy just as much. She is tiny, beautiful, has big blue eyes, and blonde ponytails sticking out of each side of her head. And she had some awesome pink and purple sparkly sneakers on her feet. Are you getting the visual? Cuter than cute.
I started engaging with her, asking what sounds a dog makes, a bird, cow, etc. since those were the ones on the toy she was playing with. She was really good at all the animal sounds. Diane, the office manager, said Sylvia often presses the music button on the toy and dances, but she didn’t feel like doing that when I was playing with her. She likes to talk, but I couldn’t quite figure out most of what she was saying.
When Diane asked her, “Sylvia, how old are you?” She replied, clear as a bell, “I’m me!” Diane asked again, “Sylvia, how old are you?” and Sylvia again responded, “I’m me!”
Her mother came out from her treatment and when she heard what was going on, she told us that when they went into the bank this morning, Sylvia said to the tellers, “Hi…I’m me!” And of course, they all fell in love with her that moment.
I think maybe Sylvia is on to something here. No matter what anyone asks her, or what happens in her day, she is still her. It didn’t feel right to her to say, “I’m 2” because she’s not “two,” she’s Sylvia. No matter what age she is, she’ll always be Sylvia. No matter what labels other people give her, no matter what happens to her, she will always be “me.”
Just got me thinking…even if we have cancer, we are still us. Wouldn’t it be great if instead of “I’m a cancer patient” or “I’m a cancer survivor,” we could just say, “I’m me”? Or when someone asked us what kind of cancer we have, what kind of treatment we are undergoing, or how long we have had cancer, we could just respond, simply, “I’m me?”
It might be a good reminder to say out loud what is most definitely true…that “I’m me,” no matter what. When we’ve had a cancer diagnosis, we might think differently, believe different things, behave differently, or feel different emotions. There are obviously lots of changes in our lives that happen because of cancer. But we are, at our essence, still us. Cancer can not touch that. No treatment can change that.
I said to Sylvia’s mom and Diane that I wish I could just say, “I’m me” wherever I go and whenever someone asked me a question about myself. The office manager said someone might be tempted to admit me to a psychiatric facility if I did that. Could be. So I decided I would say it to myself instead…as a reminder…none of the things that have happened to me can change who I am at my deepest core. I am, and will always be, me.
Sylvia might just be the wisest person I know.
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