Your Story Matters

yourstorymatters.jpg

At CMN, we stand by the belief that you are more than a number and more than your diagnosis: you are a human being that is battling a disease, with much more to your life as well. You are unique, in the way you talk, the way you think, and how you perceive the world and events around you. Today we want to discuss why this is so important. Your story matters, and you have the right to share it (or not) – with the loved ones that make up your cancer community, on your personal webpages or on internet forums, or on a stage in front of hundreds. Ultimately, whether you keep it to yourself choose to share it, your story matters, for reasons you may have yet to consider.

Please note, this blog is meant to be a companion to another post titled Patient PrivacyCMN firmly believes in the right to maintain your anonymity and your choice to share your story on your own terms. This post is meant to be purely informational, not persuasive one way or another.

The Science of Storytelling

Many of us have grown up with the art of storytelling; the art of oral recollection has been passed down for centuries, and is still used today, even with the advancement of technology. Even in today’s oversaturation of information that is readily available with a single click or tap of a few keys, storytelling is especially valuable.This is because, “as social creatures who regularly affiliate with strangers, stories are an effective way to transmit important information and values from one individual or community to the next. Stories that are personal and emotionally compelling engage more of the brain, and thus are better remembered, than simply stating a set of facts.”[1] We connect with the protagonists of stories because we connect to them; there is a certain aspect of relatability that we can find in almost any character. This is further supported through brain science: stories often release oxytocin, and “when the brain synthesizes oxytocin, people are more trustworthy, generous, charitable, and compassionate. I have dubbed oxytocin the‘moral molecule,’ and others call it the love hormone. What we know is that oxytocin makes us more sensitive to social cues around us. In many situations, social cues motivate us to engage to help others, particularly if the other person seems to need our help.” This does not necessarily mean that all stories stimulate a ‘fix-it’ response; rather, we are active organisms. We synthesize information, and then attach it to some form of action in order to remember it better in the long-term. 

For example, we may hear a story on the news about a young child who was adopted by a loving family, which then stimulates us to tell a loved one how much they mean to us, and how grateful we are for them. The social cues that were brought about from the news story were unconditional love and generosity, and we then mirror these in actions that do not necessarily have to match the actions discussed in the story. 

Further, stories have also been scientifically proven to encourage us to reach out and help others, even if they are strangers to us. In one experiment, “participants watched 16 public-service ads from the United Kingdom that were produced by various charities to convince people not to drink and drive, text and drive, or use drugs… donations to the featured charities to measure the impact of the ads.”

Such results were mirrored in a second experiment where participants were given synthetic oxytocin; “they donated to 57 percent more of the featured charities and donated 56 percent more money than participants given a placebo. Those who received oxytocin also reported more emotional transportation into the world depicted in the ad. Most importantly, these people said they were less likely to engage in the dangerous behaviors shown in the ads.” As such, the power of storytelling is ever-present and scientifically measurable.

Storytelling and You 

You have most likely witnessed how powerful storytelling can be: have you ever recited an age-old fable to a child, and watched their eyes light up in response to the twists and turns of the story? Have you ever recited a particular event that occurred in your life to a loved one, and watched them chuckle at your slight misfortune? Storytelling is extremely influential and impactful.

You have the power to engage other people, to bring them into your world and share with them your unique experiences; it is entirely up to you. Maybe you are comfortable with sharing a story that is more-lighthearted, wanting to reserve the ‘heavy’ stuff for another day. That’s okay, and that’s your right. You are in charge: you choose your audience, when you want to share, how you want to share, and most importantly, whyyou want to share. Let this empower you!

Storytelling is unique in that it “allows us to be present with our experience, and to draw others into that experience as well.” [2] In order to best tell your story, remember that “to impact others, you must first discover what impacts you. To truly tell your story, you need to find it. That’s how mindfulness can help.” 

Remember, “we’re all imperfect, yet we’re all worthy, just as we are. It’s beautiful and worth telling. Vulnerability is also the path to our greatest creativity, courage, love, transformation, and connection. It leads us to our purpose, passion and our place in this world. It’s how we shine, and how we show others they can shine, too.”

Your story matters because you matter. Never downplay your strength or ability to love, learn, and live wholeheartedly. You have overcome challenges, some of which only you know about, and you have the power and potential to change lives. Your reach is far beyond what you may realize; you could change the world through your story! Of course, your story deserves to be told on your terms and when you believe the timing is right. It can be as informal as through quick Facebook statuses, or you could eventually write a book. It is up to you!

For More Information 

You are a human being with values, goals, priorities, and responsibilities far beyond your cancer diagnosis. You are a cancer warrior, but your value lies far beyond your health status. CMNrecognizes that, and puts together comprehensive treatmentsthat attacks cancer while simultaneously stimulating your mental and emotional healing. To learn more about the services we offer, click here to contact us. You can also email us at info@cmnact.com.


[1]Zak, Paul J. “How Stories Change the Brain.” Greater Good, UC Berkeley.2013.

[2]Coleman, Flynn. “Only Connect: Why Your Story Matters.” The Huffington Post. 2013.

CMN Hospital