FierceI think sometimes fierce gets a glamorous image. It’s easy to think of finish lines, mountain tops, and triumphs when we think of the word fierce – but fierce isn’t the finish, it’s how you got there. Fierce is the long, lonely runs in the rain, months, even years before the starting line.

Fierce is giving it your all, knowing there is no finish line. Do or die. For real.

Fierce is defiantly holding your baby after the mastectomy, against doctors orders.

Fierce is getting up in the middle of the night to change your infant’s diaper as your body reels from the chemo induced nausea and fatigue.

Fierce is getting up the next morning to go back for another excruciating treatment. Day after day after day.

Fierce is not passive; fierce doesn’t have time for pity parties.

Fierce fights back.

Fierce isn’t pretty, but it’s beautiful.

Fierce is making difficult choices.

Fierce is finding the courage to have a difficult conversation.

Fierce is embracing your integrity, even when it makes you feel unloved.

Fierce is knowing who you are, and being that person the best you can.

Fierce keeps learning.

Fierce understands that sometimes learning means un-learning what is no longer true, or even more painful, what you finally understand was never true.

Fierce is understanding that cancer is not a shortcut to courage, or wisdom, or strength. You still have to do the work to gain and keep those qualities.

You don’t have to have cancer to be fierce.

You don’t have to have cancer to practice courage, or wisdom, or strength.

You have a choice.

You can be fierce.

How are you fierce?




This piece was written as part of the Clever Girls’ Collective Traveling Blue Wig Project. This project supports the Fierce Fund which will donate $20,000 this year to organizations that help girls and women. Check out their site and help select the Fierce Fund grant winner.

Judy Schwartz Haley is a mother, wife, student, writer, photographer, and breast cancer survivor. If you really want to see her get fierce, try to take her chocolate.

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Judy Schwartz Haley


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