June 02, 2023

Calm During Crisis


Wedding season has officially started, so I’ll tell you a little tale about my own wedding.

Shannon and I were slated to get married in an old factory in Pittsburgh. (We love urban decay and grunge.) On a site visit three days before our wedding we discovered more grunge than we bargained for. Water was raining out of the ceiling, and serious mold infestation had set in – our guests would need hazmat suits just to step foot in the building.

Our response? “Oh, this is fixable.” We made a list of alternate spaces (a cool yoga studio in an old school house, a fire hall, an installation art museum), called around town, and found a great solution within 24 hours. Stressful? Yes. Earth shattering? Far from it. We were calm and cool. My mom and her friend were amazed that I didn’t cry or transform into a ready for cable TV bridezilla creature.

I didn’t consciously say to myself: ‘My cancer is not curable, but a ruined wedding location is.’ Yet, I know that this perspective played a large part in my no big deal attitude. I am way too neurotic to think that cancer has chilled me out; I still sweat small stuff. But having cancer as a young adult has taught me well how to be calm during crisis.

Have you had any major moments when you been able to brush off a seemingly stressful situation because it pales in comparison to the stress of illness? Do you find yourself saying more often “This is no big deal” or “I can handle this”?

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  1. Kate Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 1:26 PM

    I don’t think I’m more calm than before, I think I’ve just re-defined what a crisis is.

  2. David Moss Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 4:12 PM

    I think cancer has been a reinforcement that little things are no big deal.

    My “no big deal” moment can on 9-11. I was in the World Trade Center on the 39th floor of the first tower that was hit and lucky enough to make it out. After getting home and realizing what happened I had my first encounter with the fact that little things shouldn’t bother me.

    Over the past year of so I can see I started slipping back into the fact that little things were again getting to me. In other words, I simply forgot the lesson that I learned in that disaster.

    The thyriod cancer - while mine is curable has brought back to me that little things are meaningless -Bbut this time I think it will stay. My once per year checkup will keep me grounded with the important things in this very short life we all have.


  3. Michelle Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:23 PM

    Half-way through my chemo treatments, my husband lost his job. Didn’t get one until 6 months later, and then had to move back to NY for it. He’s still gone. Have I stressed? Yes. Have I freaked out. Admittedly, yes. However, in light of the things we have been through over the past year, this is nothing. It’s not life and death. We will deal, we will get through, and we will survive. I learned a very important lesson - when I think something’s worth worrying about, I ask myself: will it matter in a moment? a minute? an hour? a day? week? month? year? The only things I worry about are things that are going to last long-term. Everything else is just details….

  4. Kelly Kane Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    When I was laid off last year, I freaked for like a day then was like, “Whatever, I had cancer, this is nothing!”

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