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Episode 9: What Illness or Health Condition is Worse?

Mar 12, 2024
Wellbeing Interrupted Episode 9




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Hey there! Welcome to episode nine of Wellbeing Interrupted. If we haven't met before, my name is Teisha. Today's episode focuses on this question: What illness or health condition is worse?
And I'm not going to provide an answer. Instead, I want to use this episode to highlight why this type of thinking is really detrimental to everyone's quest for wellness. Why this podcast, Wellbeing Interrupted, and the courses, coaching, and workshops offered by Hurdle2Hope focus on the person, regardless of what health challenge or illness they're dealing with.



How Social Media Comments Can Be Detrimental to Wellbeing


Who would have thought social media comments can sometimes be detrimental to your wellbeing? So last year, I came across a post on an MS Facebook group. The essence of it was that this person was so sick and tired of people living with cancer getting all of the support, and such levels of support and awareness were not the same for MS. It wasn't fair. She was over it. And I was so taken back by this comment.


After deleting my first response, I wrote a second one later that night. And I simply said that I live with stage four breast cancer and MS. Fortunately, I have amazing support for both illnesses. But as I reflected on this, I thought, why are we comparing? If you're not supported, let's focus on gaining support for you. If MS doesn't have enough awareness, work on creating that awareness. Advocate for it.


But why be annoyed that a cancer patient in desperate need of support is receiving that support? There should be enough support for everyone: cancer, MS, and rare diseases that no one else knows about. And for what it's worth, I'm actually grateful that I have two 'popular' diseases, MS and breast cancer. And I call them popular because, compared to rare conditions, which I've learned a lot more about since starting Hurdle2Hope®, there is a lot of awareness about MS and breast cancer. And with that awareness does come more funding for research and trials and all things like that.


But even if we want to create awareness for rare conditions, which I do, and I certainly share posts about that, this shouldn't be at the expense of other conditions. It shouldn't be a competition between cancer, MS, or whatever else the condition is. And don't get me wrong, I think having organizations and groups for information and support for a specific illness is really beneficial. I know Breast Cancer Network Australia had excellent resources when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, but it doesn't mean we can't learn from others with different conditions to our own.


Enhancing Wellness Through Compassion and Diverse Health Journeys


What I've discovered now, and what I believe, is we can actually enhance our wellness through more compassion towards others living with the same or different illnesses. This is because our wellness, our wellbeing, will benefit from the diversity of other people's health journeys. So if we want to live well, one of the most powerful things we can do is to be open to learning from each other. I'm not just talking about people with the same condition. In last week's episode, number eight, I talked about the importance of having an open mind to start your healing journey. So, being open to what other people have experienced and open to what other people recommend. It's about shifting the focus onto the person and not just the disease because there is so much we can learn from each other.


I'm not saying information is not power because, absolutely, learn about your condition. But what I'm really interested in on Wellbeing Interrupted and through the Hurdle2Hope® programs is how do you protect your own wellbeing when you enter the world of cancer, MS, or whatever your condition is? It's about finding that information but protecting your own wellbeing. It's about learning from others with the same condition but also protecting yourself in those conversations. For example, if someone's really negative about their situation, it's not about bringing that negativity into your situation. If someone isn't responding to a certain medication, it's not assuming that is your experience as well. But it's also being open to the fact and the reality that people living with other conditions can still help you with insights.


For instance, not everyone will experience the physical changes I've had to experience with breast cancer. So, two single mastectomies for me. And dealing with the reality of a flat chest as a woman. Not everyone experiences the type of pain I experience with MS. However, many of us can relate to the broader challenges such as changes to our body image or managing chronic pain. Or dealing with the stress of medical appointments, which, as a quick update, I had my three-monthly checkup with my oncologist this week, and all the bloods were very positive, which is good. So remission continues. Sorry, a side note.


So these shared experiences with people with different conditions but similar experiences, these are the insights we can gain. And it's these insights I share, even though I'm sharing them from my experiences with stage four breast cancer and MS. You can still apply these insights to your life with any health condition. So if you find yourself engaging in online forums, social media groups, Facebook groups, or in casual conversations, let's try to avoid comparisons of who has it worse. Instead, let's look for insights that can help us to move forward. If a discussion doesn't serve your wellbeing, it might be worth reconsidering your engagement with that group or platform. And that's what I did with that MS group. So many people agreed with that lady's comment. So many people were really frustrated about people living with cancer, like somehow they had it easier. And I thought, "That's not the energy I need to be surrounded with."


And now I just want to quickly touch upon the importance of kindness and compassion. So often, we don't fully understand what someone else is going through. And for me, it would actually break my heart if someone diagnosed with stage one breast cancer didn't reach out to me because they were worried that I'd be sitting there comparing their diagnosis to mine. You know, worried that I'd be saying, "You can't be serious. You're worried about stage one? I've got stage four." But that's not the environment I want to create. If I'm to help others, and if we're to help each other dealing with their own health condition, let's not be dismissive or judgmental. Every person's challenge is real and valid to them. And I promise I'll never be dismissive.


The Wellbeing Interrupted Podcast Is Relevant to Every Health Challenge


If you're dealing with any challenge relating to your health that's impacting your life, then please always reach out. The Wellbeing Interrupted podcast is relevant to every health challenge. I talk about illnesses that have an impact on our lives. So, any health condition that impacts your day-to-day life, that impacts your plans and dreams for the future, this podcast is for you.


And from feedback, I know people are listening whose lives have been interrupted because of a loved one being diagnosed with a significant health challenge or because they work in the health sector. They also want to know some of the insights to help people embrace their life with their condition. And so, for whatever reason you're listening, I am so glad that you are.


What I will continue to do through Wellbeing Interrupted and also the Hurdle2Hope® services, which you can look at on (Hurdle2Hope® with the number two), is focusing on the power of our mindset. So you can have an impact on your experience with your illness. Regardless of what condition it is.


And as I've shared before, what being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer has taught me is that our most powerful ally in our healing journey is our mindset. It is the mindset shifts that I've learned in living with MS that have enabled me to embrace life with two significant illnesses.



Behind the Scenes: Hurdle2Hope® Nearly Didn’t Happen


And just as a quick background, Hurdle2Hope® nearly didn't happen because I was so worried about this whole comparison thing. The week I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had actually created a course called " Hurdle2Hope®: Multiple Sclerosis, Harness Your Strength, Regain Your Power, Build Your Resilience." It really focused on helping people with MS. When I was creating the course, I knew the Hurdle2Hope® roadmap could help so many more people living with so many different conditions, but I was nervous. I thought, "If I put this course out there, then people living with something like stage four breast cancer would think, 'What does she know? She lives with MS. I'm sure that's difficult, but she's not diagnosed with a terminal illness.'" And the fear of such comments and judgments stopped me from broadening my audience and made me think, "No, I will keep to MS. And I will share my insights with people who really need these." But it seemed wasted.


The irony was I was then diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. And I used that course, all the workbooks, and all the activities in my life with stage four breast cancer, and every activity, every insight has helped me. And that's why I am so passionate about not comparing illnesses because, of course, they're all unique. Of course, we need to find out about our conditions through the right resources because information is power, and we need to own what's happening to us and be part of the decision-making process. Absolutely. But that doesn't mean we cannot learn from others with different health conditions.


So the reality is, my younger self, dealing with MS for years and years and gaining all of these insights, has helped me in my forties now dealing with another massive challenge. So it's that realization that gives me so much confidence that sharing my insights on this podcast, in the courses and coaching I offer, will help you as well, regardless of your conditions. And what I'm excited about from a personal stance is, I am going to learn so much from you as well because your condition may be completely different to mine, but that's not to stop you from sharing insights that will help me to embrace my life and continue on my healing journey as well.



Insights and Next Steps for Wellness


So, a short and punchy episode today, but an important one. Because in today's episode, we've really looked at this question: Which illness or health condition is worse? We've unpacked it, and hopefully, you agree. If you don't, that's absolutely fine. Send me a message. But hopefully, we agree that comparing health conditions certainly doesn't help us on our wellness journeys. We've discussed the negative impact of comparing illnesses on social media, emphasized the importance and the benefits of learning from diverse health experiences, and fostering compassion towards each other. Also highlighted, the Wellbeing Interrupted podcast's universal relevance to anyone facing health challenges, regardless of what that illness is.


But finally, I want to give you a challenge. If, over the next week or weeks or months, you catch yourself comparing health conditions, it might be saying in your mind, "No, mine's not as bad as hers," or it might be, "What would she know? She doesn't have to deal with what I'm going through." Whatever way you're comparing, instead of doing that, be open to learning from that person's experience. And try to play your role in creating more compassionate and supportive communities in Facebook groups, forums, or wherever people gather to chat.


So, where to from here? It's been a busy week in our house, while Andrew, my partner, has been up at our beautiful block to ensure all was okay with the bushfires here in Victoria, Australia. Thank goodness, everything was fine. But I've been working on a quiz. And it's not just any quiz. It's called the healing journey quiz, and it's very intentional. Because I'm so passionate about helping you start your own healing journey. This quiz only takes a few minutes. It helps me find out more about you, but it also helps me to suggest what mindset shifts you can start making now to have an impact on your experience with your own health challenge. And remember, regardless of what challenge you're dealing with, this quiz, the insights I share with you, will help. And then in next week's podcast episode, I'll go through this quiz in detail. So if you want to get a head start, go to Remember, Hurdle2Hope® is with the number two. I'll also put it in the show notes of this episode. And when you complete the quiz, I'll send you different resources, insights, activities that are tailored to where you are right now and what you can do to start moving forward.


So hopefully, you have a great week coming up. If you want to reach out, please do. Email me, [email protected]. You can also go to the Hurdle2Hope® website. You can contact me through the "contact us" button there. You can sign up for the quiz on the website as well. And I mentioned earlier in the episode, if you are someone providing support to a loved one living with an illness, also reach out and let me know. I'm currently putting together some resources and, of course, focusing on that experience. Also, if you're an allied health professional, I'm actually doing workshops to help apply the Hurdle2Hope® roadmap to what you are doing to support others living with health conditions. So, I'm broadening what Hurdle2Hope® is all about because I truly believe if we are to live well with a health condition, then it's not just about us; it's about our supports and helping them support us better and also helping the practitioners working with us. So any questions, reach out; otherwise, I look forward to chatting to you next week when we chat all things healing journey quiz. See you soon.