Friday, February 23, 2007

smart ... discomfited

My co-facilitator G and I were interviewed -- and photographed -- yesterday by the East Valley Tribune, for a story about our upcoming Arizona Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Workshop.

I'm thrilled that we're getting such great newspaper coverage -- really, I can't express how important it is for us to get the word out, and to encourage thyroid cancer survivors and caregivers to come to the workshop. This kind of newspaper story, with photos and everything, is simply tremendous for increasing our visibility. (When the reporter emailed us, asking to set up the interview, I literally did the Happy Dance.)

And I am happy, but I'm also discomfited -- self-conscious and a little bit embarrassed -- because this is not about me, and I don't want it to seem that way for even a second.

When I first contacted the paper asking if they would do a story, the reporter told me that they get tons of requests like this, and that we would need to "put a face on it". In other words, we had to come up with a story to wrap around the workshop announcement, because the fact that we're having the workshop isn't enough of a story on its own. (Personally, the fact that thyroid cancer has the fastest increasing number of cancer diagnoses for women would seem to be something of a hook, but I can see that it's not much to hang an entire story on.)

So we talked over how we should approach this, since G had already done an interview with another thyca survivor for the other paper, and she thought it would be better if we took a different approach. So the "face" that we decided to put on the hook was mine. I wrote an email outlining my story: from sick mom to support group participant to facilitator, and hey look, now we've got this workshop going on...

It's all true, of course, and I'm glad I sent it, because that email, and my follow-up calls, in which I tried to convey our dedication to this cause without being a nag, were enough to get us the interview. (Yay!)

I was very relieved when the reporter asked to interview both of us -- it wouldn't be about me! (whew) But then G totally threw me when she said, right off the bat, I asked Joan to facilitate with me because she's smart. (paraphrasing there, but that's the gist.)

Yikes! Here's the thing: I am smart, but I'm also dumb about a lot of things, naive almost. I've been at home with the kids so long and I'm so out of practice navigating in professional situations that I sometimes say things that I really shouldn't, simply because I don't consider what all the unintended consequences might be. It's bizarre, really, because I constantly filter and tailor information so that it's appropriate for the kids, but for some reason when I'm with adults I figure that I don't have to do that kind of thing at all, which is ridiculous on its face.

Oh, well. G meant that I have a good handle on the ins and outs of thyca, and that I can definitely agree with. Of course I can't imagine ever matching her knowledge and experience, because she is quite simply amazing. She knows everyone and everything.

I don't exactly know why I winced when G said I was smart. I am smart, it shouldn't bother me to have other people say so, right? But it goes back to that same idea: this is not about me! Don't make it about me!

I realize I have absolutely no control over how the reporter puts this story together, and that's fine. Realistically, whatever she writes will be at least a little about me, otherwise why do the interview? That's OK. I'm smart enough to recognize that significant newspaper coverage of the workshop is much more important than any insecurities plaguing me.

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