Search the online version of the Merriam Webster's dictionary for the word strength, and you will most certainly find the following: the quality or state of being physically strong. A second description reads, "the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure.
Well, we as women are absolutely physically strong. I mean, we can have babies with or without help from anyone or even painkillers. We can talk on the phone while carrying children, digging in our purses, holding a diaper bag and groceries, and never miss a beat. We can be the only sick person in our homes and still manage to take care of everyone else, get to work, and still give 100%. We can be prayer warriors, great listeners, problem solvers, detectives, nurses, medics, and referees- all before breakfast and still not be late to a meeting or miss a deadline.
We can be breast cancer survivors, warriors in active treatment, and even give our all to the entire world that needs us without slowing down; why? Because we are STRONG, that's why! But being strong does not mean ignoring your own body and disregarding your own needs for the sake of others. That word strength and its companion strong make women feel as if we have to be the unsung heroes of the day. Even if it means we sacrifice our most valuable player, our selves.
When people tell me how strong I am, I often remind them that "yeah sometimes I am not. There is no harm, no weakness in admitting that today, you are not strong, you are just okay. The mental workout we give ourselves, especially breast cancer patients who feel as if they are letting down their family because they got cancer, is a hassle your mental health does not need!
We are often commended for the very thing that can kill us, and that is trying to be strong. Too strong to cry, too strong to tell people about your illness or diagnosis, too strong to miss work, too strong to rest. I have seen women too strong to admit they were in pain, hurting, or feeling overwhelmed. Too strong to demand pain medication from providers or participation and acknowledgment from spouses and partners. I know because I was her. And My mother and grandmother and every other woman who is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, aunt, etc has neglected themselves for loved ones. I know plenty of women who die not from their breast cancer but because of strokes, heart attacks, and other physical or mental ailments.
Women are often applauded and praised for their strength, but I say we should commend them on their resolve on their self-care techniques. Or how well they handle their mental health rather than the trauma, drama, or life-altering events that drain us make us desensitized to our internal pain.
Don't tell me I'm strong; just show me you care. By the way cancer, you messed with the breasts on the wrong woman.