There are few things that are totally different for me in my post-cancer life. The things that are different, it's hard to know whether it's cancer that was the catalyst for change, or simply that I've grown older. But the truth is, I stand up for myself a lot more these days.
Despite the fact that I'm a loud, opinionated person, most people would be surprised to learn that I'm silent and passive in confrontational situations. (This is likely the lingering trauma of a particularly confrontational New Year's Eve in 2002). When my boyfriend tells me of his most recent confrontation on the streetcar, where he hollers loudly at the car's most stubborn passenger to move down or get out of the way, I sit in horror and awe. I cannot imagine ever being so confident in my conviction that I would shout it to a crowd full of people.
Cancer helped me with that. During treatment, I refused to be second guessed or told how to behave, because I was the only one enduring and experiencing every moment of it. I was reminded of that confidence just this week when my oncologist's receptionist failed to acknowledge me politely standing in front of her for over three minutes. Though a [mild] confrontation ensued, I stood my ground knowing what I believed was right. The confidence I had as a cancer patient has transitioned nicely into my post-cancer existence.
I advised myself while I was in treatment to "live everyday like a cancer patient, with the confidence that no one will question your motives or judgement." Though doubt's ugly head often rears itself in those rare moments of confrontation, I swallow it down. Nobody can see it my way, so it's up to me to give a voice to what I see.