Justin, I understand what you're saying, and I agree that taking some useful action is much more important than simply calling you an inspiration. Where I disagree, though,
is in what sounds like a pretty narrow definition of inspiration. I had breast cancer in 1986, an aggressive form of it and 22 positive lymph nodes. As I come up on 32 years cancer-free,
I make a point of continuing to post on the Susan G. Komen Facebook page and sometimes elsewhere so that other people diagnosed with this disease have someone to keep in
mind when the fear becomes overwhelming. Most people who are 10-plus years out from diagnosis stop posting because they are simply getting on with their lives. I like to think that
I've gotten on with my life, too, but that doesn't mean that I can't continue to lend support. Yes, some women do tell me I'm an inspiration. Like you, I'm not comfortable with that label. BUT
as a freelance copy editor for more than 30 years, I am very language-conscious. I know that people often use words that don't quite convey their meaning. So when someone says
that I'm an inspiration, I take that as her (or his) way of saying that my story inspires hope. That's my main goal at this stage of my life and my cancer experience--to give a terrified person
some hope to hold onto. I'm the first one to bristle at some of the words that get bandied about in our society--the misuse of "begs the question," the way that news commentators say, "So Tom,
tell me what went down," and the list goes on. So perhaps instead of calling you an inspiration, it would be better if someone said, "Thank you for sharing your story. That gives me hope." But we
live in a shorthand society, and language is not treated with the same respect as it used to be. I wish you well.
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