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Your Stories Don’t Define You, How You Tell Them Will

Mar 26, 2019

When we share stories, whether in our personal or business lives, how we share them makes a difference in how we remember them, and in how we’re perceived by the people we’re sharing them with.

Think about a story a stranger recently told you; what did that story say about the person sharing it? Did it demonstrate a different aspect of their character than you were expecting? How we choose to share a story - the details about the characters, our body language, our facial expression and tone of voice - all contributes to the perception our audience will have of us afterward.

When listening to this podcast, I encourage you to listen to consider your related stories, to listen and consider which stories in your life might have impacted you in a similar way, and to consider how you share your own stories, and the messages they carry for yourself and for the people around you.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring the word resilience. 

According to, resilience is defined as:

the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

Our first episode in this series explores that definition from the perspective of a cancer survivor, Andrea Amundsen.

Though I’d never use that phrase, “cancer survivor” to describe or define this woman, it does give you a picture of the specific illness and adversity she has experienced.

Andrea was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer when she was 36. A mother of teenaged daughters, she was given 6 months to live, and a choice to let things go and be comfortable, or to fight like hell. She decided to fight:

"I am a single mom, had two daughters to raise, and grandchildren to adore in my future."

That was nearly 10 years ago.

We met at a fundraiser organized on her behalf to help with the outrageous medical bills she was accumulating. The event was big for our small town, with 12 bands playing on different stages throughout the day, and a silent auction with hundreds of items to bid on. Our band had played an extra long set on the main stage, and when we finished, she walked up to me, thanked me, and gave me a hug that I felt to the center of my soul. They raised a lot of money that day.

Of course, that was just the beginning of her journey. Since then, she has had some kind of chemo or treatment nearly twice each month to keep the cancer from growing (it's not something that will ever be cured), and can work only limited hours. The medical bills continue to stack up, and those of us who know, and who can help do - but she won't ask.

When I think of the words resilience, fortitude, and love, I think of her.

I like to think of Andrea as a magnificent tree, growing roots from her feet to hold her steady so she can support her many branches; her children, her grandchildren, the many who rely on her for comfort and as a resource when faced with struggle and tragedy. She is the picture of the word resilience, as far as I’m concerned, not because she has survived, or because, as the definition describes, she has bounced back to her former form. She hasn’t bounced back to her former form because cancer will never allow someone to go backward. She is the picture of the word because she continues to thrive, despite her diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

Andrea has the positivity (buoyancy) of a tree in springtime, with the reality of a future of snow and bitter cold. Her version of resilience comes from a love for super heroes, magical creatures, and her belief that she is here for a reason. She knows that when she provides support and resources for others facing similar diagnoses, love and comfort for her family and friends, and constant encouragement for her daughters, she is serving her purpose; she is alive simply because she lives her purpose. (And maybe because she’s so damn stubborn.)

Visit the Lost & Foundation website to learn more about the organization and the people they serve.