Cancer Genius

She doesn’t want to fight cancer anymore. She’s not a hero. She’s not brave.

She’s actually more amazing than ever.

Sorry…..let me go back a step and explain. On Monkey Radio with Marc, one of our guests was the incomparable Tiffany Staropoli—the Cancer Dancer—who has been fighting cancer for a while. And in so many ways, winning.

Tiffany wrote a blog post this week:

Read it. It’s good. Genius good. And I totally disagree with it, as follows:

She is brave. She is a hero.

Not because she fought cancer. Not because she picked a treatment. Not even because she didn’t give up.

She’s a hero because in the face of impending possible doom, pain, fear, challenges, expense, and more, Tiffany decided to dance.

In dancing she made herself feel better. Her husband feel better.
She made us all feel better.

You think it doesn’t take bravery to face something that’s staring you down, and wants to kill you and scares the crap out of you, with dignity? Bravery: “the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening” – Miriam Webster Dictionary

You think it isn’t heroism to not give up, to take everything that’s coming at you, and still try to make others smile so the pain is only yours?  Heroism: “conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end” – Miriam Webster Dictionary

You think it’s not extraordinary and amazing to not simply try to put this behind you, but instead try to use your painful and embarrassing experiences to inspire and help others with interviews, and writing, and blogging in the most personal and painful of moments, and videos?  Extraordinary: “exceptional to a very marked extent” – Miriam Webster Dictionary

Tiffany, you haven’t just tried to get back to equilibrium, like most. You used the downdraft to fly higher and touch the sun.

Let it be clearly said that your blog post about giving up the fight was amazing, wise and inspiring. And selfless, and right, and likely healing. There’s no disputing that you are entirely correct.

Except on one point: You’re my hero.

That’s why we are naming you the “Monkey Radio with Marc 2014 American of the Year.”

Yup, comes with a trophy and everything.

Look at  last year’s honoree—you’re in extremely good company.

You’re my hero not because you fought cancer vigorously.

It is because you made it count for something, mean something. You rose above dire circumstances. You danced. You flew. You mattered.

So we all accept your viewpoint and your sage messages. And we understand you are keeping things in perspective, and trying to inspire others, and yourself, simultaneously. Just because someone puts on a uniform so they can pay for college doesn’t make them a hero. It’s what they do when the insanity confronts them, how they react, how they take care of others and make the moment meaningful—how they manage excruciating moments—-that’s when heroism is born. The decisions made. The paths taken. The flight path flown.

And then we honor you for bravery and heroism and choosing a flight path of meaning. We salute you.

Not for surviving. not for fighting. Not even for dancing.

For flying.

UPDATE 03/29/14

tiffanyLast night at the 2014 ROCPodfest in Rochester, NY, we presented Tiffany with the award (trophy and all) of “2014 American of the Year” in front of a live audience as we Skyped into the event  from New York City. Our guess is it was about as meaningful for us to do be a part of it as it was for her to be honored. She received a standing ovation from the crowd, beaming pride from her husband Rick, and recognition she deserves.

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