Pretty much anybody who knows me knows I do not like the spotlight, nor is it something I ever seek out. The very idea of it makes me ridiculously uncomfortable, like a thousand bugs crawling on me. I don’t like being in photographs, and I cringe when I see myself on video.
I know I have pontificated on the importance of parents being in the photographs with their kids based on the fact my mom hated being in the photos. I will cop to being a hypocrite when it comes to being in the pictures and videos. Lara Huffman, hypocritical photographer. #thatsme
So, when I saw a post on Facebook, announcing that UPMC Health Plan was looking for volunteers for their “This is what a Runner Looks Like” campaign, I thought, “Hmm, maybe I can talk about Metavivor?”
I knew I could get UPMC’s attention by just saying a little about myself. Breast cancer + young age = catnip for social media teams. People love the breast cancer SURVIVOR narrative, so I used it to my advantage. Surprise surprise (or not), they called me up and said they wanted to share my story.
I told the very nice woman up front that I didn’t want to do it if I couldn’t talk about Metavivor somehow and mention their name. She tried to get me to agree to do the series, even if I couldn’t talk about Metavivor, insisting that others will find my story inspirational. I told her that yes, I am sure, and I don’t want to put myself out there like that on behalf of UPMC if I couldn’t talk about the organization I wanted to broadcast.
I will only publicity whore myself out for charity, thank you very much.
When I didn’t hear from her for a handful of days, I thought, “Welp, big hospital conglomerate decided they didn’t like my provision. OH WELL.” Then they surprised me, and got the approval.
Boy, the day of the taping, I felt so awkward and wanted to hide. I kept telling myself, “It’s for Metavivor, it’s for Metavivor.” I also thought if I could put it out in the universe that not everybody becomes some zen Cancer on the Buddha top after going through cancer treatment. That’s not me. I don’t have any answers, or pretend that I even do. Cancer didn’t make me a better person or some changed, wide-eyed person who takes life by the horns.
Cancer did give me something I didn’t have quite as much before: impatience with people who don’t deserve my patience. I don’t have the time for friendships that caused me more grief than joy. If you are not in my life, then it’s for a very deliberate reason, which I am under no obligation to explain myself. I definitely cut people out of my life who needed hand holding constantly, but if you have a problem, then they have to one-up you. I cannot stand those people, and they make me see red. I definitely do not have patience for anyone who wants to mistreat me or my loved ones.
So I never want to be put on a pedestal, because I’m going to jump off it. I am not some damn hero for not dying from breast cancer. (The real hero in that is science!) I also don’t want anyone to put me on a pedestal for talking about metastatic breast cancer. Shit like that is a distraction. Talk about metastatic breast cancer, and the need for research and real change in the breast cancer narrative.
The downside of making regular folks out to be heroes is that eventually the magic evaporates and what’s standing there is a regular person with regular flaws.
So, luckily, UPMC Health Plan edited me in a way that’s true to me, AND I got to mention METAvivor.
This is What a Runner Looks Like: Lara H.
It’s surreal to think almost 15,000 people watched this almost 2-minute clip of me TALKING. When the video first posted, I felt so uncomfortable and batted off any praise like a fly buzzing by me. Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop. Stop talking about me and go visit METAvivor.
I am not looking to be anyone’s inspiration, I’m really not. That puts a lot of pressure on me to keep deliverin’ the goods, and I don’t have the patience to feel weighed down by unrealistic expectations. This also isn’t me fishing for compliments. But you are! I relish that my friends admire me, and I don’t take that lightly. I wouldn’t be friends with them if I didn’t admire them either.
I know I signed up to do this, and I exposed the name METAvivor to almost 15,000 people. That’s all I wanted to do, and I can tell that the buzz around my video is already quieting down on social media (thank GOD). I just want the conversation be about metastatic breast cancer and the 114 that die in the U.S. every day from the disease. Instead of being wowed by the messenger, focus on the message. 🙂
I’m sorry for feeling uncomfortable about the exposure and not knowing how to react to people telling me they cried.
Would I do something like this again? Uh, probably not, unless they let me link to METAvivor or talk more about metastatic breast cancer. But do something like this just to talk about myself?
One thought on “So I did a thing”
Thank you for sharing this story and the video. I have also found that when people from health organizations ask you to speak (particularly about stage 4 cancer), they may want to edit out some parts that they think may be “uncomfortable” for some listeners. I’ve pushed back each time and each time I was “allowed” to speak my truth. Keep up your advocacy. Our lives depend on it!