I Am Not My Pain – Jenny Ahlstrom

During my transplant I remember wondering if the doctors or nursing staff knew what I was like. What I was really like. I felt like I looked like everyone else – bald, tired and pretty sickly. I was “the patient.” I had a medical record number that I recited when I visited the clinic. The people at my facility were loving and kind, but my real identity seemed to be disappearing, sucked into the fog of multiple myeloma.

One day, something snapped. Myeloma had overtaken my life and I wanted it back. Being on the meds was hard and altered my personality, but in a flash I realized that I was not my pain. I didn’t have to be identified by a disease or the experiences I had to endure. I was a woman who liked to cook, read, write, sing and help other myeloma survivors. I was the wife of an energetic, entrepreneurial husband, a mom to lots of busy and clever kids, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I had dreams, hopes and a future.

While the “cancer patient” label speaks to the depth of experiences I’ve endured, I still don’t have to be identified by my pain, no matter how painful. I wrote and recorded this song because the learning goes on and yes, I will never be the same.

I Am Not My Pain – Diana Hallare

My version of the song, “I Am Not My Pain” written by Jenny Ahlstrom, is dedicated to people who have experienced cancer and/or rare disease as well as their loved ones whose hearts also bear the pain. These individuals include family friends, even the ones in heaven: their lives and legacies still shine as an inspiration for me. One of my cherished memories is of a childhood buddy, Michael and his family. Michael remained positive throughout his ordeal and after his amputation. Another great example is a breast cancer survivor who helped to rebuild her old elementary school library and to organize a medical mission in her rural hometown in the Philippines. From these champions, I have learned about the power of compassion to transform our pain so we live out our mission with passion. For those who are now in pain, I also hope this tribute will remind you that you do not have to be afraid or alone.

(Credits: Timothy Dunham II for the background music. Thanks to Jenny Ahlstrom too for creating heartfelt lyrics.)

One of my biggest roles today is being a creative communications coach, with passions in singing, writing, public speaking, and health. My educational background includes degrees in public health and science; I am also a doctoral student in leadership studies, which I aim to apply in social entrepreneurship. Currently, I live in California — from where I can share the gift of compassion with someone across the street, the nation or the globe.

I am Not My Pain – Luke Hopkins

This song is dedicated to Jenny Ahlstrom who I met after donating a song to songs for life. Jenny is amazing for her strength and passion about helping others get through cancer with hope through music and building a community of support. I had never heard of myeloma but after visiting her blog and reading up on this type of cancer, it is an extremely difficult fight. So I tried to sing this song with the same kind of passion and emotion that Jenny displays on a daily basis. When I downloaded the lyrics to “I am Not My Pain”, I knew I wanted to sing the song and I hadn’t even heard the chords yet. But as I heard the chords, a melody started to come to me. My mom tells me that I have never sung this song the with the same melody twice and that is probably true. Each time I sing the song, different words take on new meaning to me and so they get a different emphasis or new note. So it was really fun to try and sing a song like this that I had never heard before because it felt like I was finally allowed to “color outside the lines…” So if it sounds like vocal scribble to you, you’ll know why…

I’m 12 years old and love to sing, eat In-and-Out burgers, work off the burgers at Planet Fitness while watching “Cupcake wars”. If I’m not in school, hanging with friends or cleaning my room, you can find me on my trampoline singing and doing back flips–(yes, at the same time). On Sunday evenings, you can find me at Hotel Park City, singing in the lobby.