Bongino's Vulnerable Moment
- Radio host Dan Bongino, 45, was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma, a blood cancer, earlier this year.
- Bongino has been open with his listeners about his diagnosis and journey and recently shared a picture of scars from his treatment.
- Learning to deal with vulnerability through cancer has been called “a major step in the cancer journey” by oncological psychiatric professionals.
We understand how difficult it can be to open yourself up; sharing your personal journey isn’t always easy. Over the weekend, Bongino shared a picture on his social media of new scars on his neck from treatment, saying: “Cancer blows, big time. But it def leaves you with a hell of a lot of scars to chat about! WTF!”
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Bongino’s “Cancer blows, big time” hits home with those going through it, and may make them feel less alone.
Cancer & Vulnerability
Opening up about your cancer diagnosis and the journey is a highly personal matter. Some choose to only disclose their cancer news with their nearest and dearest. (Many were saddened and surprised to learn of Kelly Preston’s passing from breast cancer over the summer, as she did not go public with her cancer battle.)
By allowing people in, you often find support in unlikely places and can help others who are fighting the disease themselves. Some people may struggle with depression, grief, and other heavy emotions and mental health issues after being diagnosed with cancer. This is typical and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Yet, many do experience a sense of shame following a cancer diagnosis, particularly if it is a type of cancer which may have previously had a stigma associated with it, like anal cancer.
Dr. William Breitbart, the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, affirms the power of vulnerability and cancer diagnoses. He tells SurvivorNet, “Shame comes from this sense of vulnerability, right? There’s something wrong with me because I’m human and I’m susceptible to illness, and now I have an illness. Now I have cancer. What I will often point out to people is that we have the ability to choose how we respond to this vulnerability.”
Sociologists and researchers like Dr. Brene Brown, have consistently found a direct correlation between one’s capacity for vulnerability and one’s experience of love and connection; exercising vulnerability allows others to connect with you and support you. Connection and support can be very important as you go through your cancer journey.
“We can be ashamed of it. Or we can use it to create a sense of empathy. I’m imperfect. And now I understand other people who are imperfect. And so being imperfect can teach you how to love other human beings. And it’s what makes it possible for others to love you.”
Cancer & Acceptance
Bongino shared with listeners how he initially grappled with his diagnosis, saying, “I’ve received an overwhelming amount of support [after surgery for a lump on my neck]. Unfortunately, it is cancer. It’s lymphoma – the Hodgkin’s type. But it is treatable. I do have cancer, and that is hard for me to say.”
After he shared that news, he continued to be open about his cancer. He also told fans, “I have nothing to be depressed about. There’s a treatment plan. Everybody’s got their obstacles; this is just another one for me and [my wife].”
Acceptance, like Bongino’s, can be a key part of the cancer journey. Accepting the reality of the situation at hand may make it easier to proceed with treatment. Dr. Breitbart tells SurvivorNet that acceptance is an important step. “We all have to live lives of uncertainty,” he says. “And we all have to have the courage to risk living and becoming who we are meant to be or we want to become. In the lived experience of every day and every year, we’re really living an uncertain future, not a certain future, because every day of our lives is really filled with uncertainty.”
Cancer can make the uncertainty of life feel like it increases exponentially. Dr. Breitbart encourages acceptance, saying, “What the task becomes is having the courage to live in the face of uncertainty, realizing that you cannot necessarily control the uncertainty in life, the suffering that occurs, limitations, challenges both good and bad. You may not be able to control those. But you have control over how you choose to respond to them and the attitudes you take towards them.”
Choosing to respond to a cancer diagnosis with vulnerability, may lead the road ahead to be more easily traveled, with loved ones staying the course with you, along the route.