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By Stacia Wagner and James McCue
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
James description of "what gets in his way"
James description of "what gets in his way"



Twice a month, a group of survivors gather at the CBTF office to discuss a new life topic. The discussion is done through photography and writing. Unfortunately, I missed last night’s topic of “What Gets In My Way?” I wanted to share the wisdom of one survivor, James McCue.

In working with young adults and adolescents the pressure to figure out how you “fit in” is always present. However, with brain tumor survivors this pressure can be even greater. Finding a way to understand others who are worried about superficial life issues, such as Hollywood gossip or not having the right pair of jeans, when the issues you have faced have been life or death issues is difficult. Finding a way to help people understand you when in some ways are like them, but in some ways are very different is an obstacle many survivor face at each transition point in their lives. James did an excellent job of describing this.

What Gets In My Way: The Social Pressures of Conformity/Normalcy

This is the most challenging obstacle I seem to face and I know I'm not alone when I feel a sense of alienation like the blue or red tower in the picture. Which one's really normal? I've posed that question to myself countless times, similarities and differences. This is especially true when you are amongst a group, like I as in college, where everyone wants the norm, and they away from the taboo of difference. Or in our case, the difference of being a brain tumor survivor. The local stores’ magazine sections don't encourage people to be themselves. They play on a person's insecurities and this idea of "being better". They want them to be something other than what they are. Something photo shopped, something narcissist and only self-impressed, but most importantly something produced en masse on cardboard.

 I don't want to be something cardboard and the other person should know if you cut me I will bleed. But it is a constant challenge because it’s a journey into the unknown. People want a collective feeling/identity rather than a place where diversity belongs and is celebrated.

How do you explain difference to your child? If you are a survivor, how do you explain difference to your friends, family, or a new person? Let us know.

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