On Being A Lady

Why do so many people seem to think that the word “lady” is a bad word these days?  Yes, I realize it has four letters, but really now, it is not that awful.

If you look at Merriam-Webster’s they define lady as “a woman of refinement and gentle manners.”  Dictionary.com also adds “polite and well-spoken” to their definition.  So, why, with a definition like this, would the word “lady” be judged so harshly?

If anything in this day and age, don’t we want to be women who are polite, who are refined, and who are well-spoken?

I suspect I hear about this a bit more because I wrote a book entitled Living Like A Lady When You Have Cancer.  Even now, three years later with an International Book Award under my belt, the question is often asked, why the word Lady?  Shouldn’t you change the title?  It isn’t very “mainstream” to be a lady these days.

When I wrote the book Living Like A Lady, I purposely used the word Lady.  Yes, I liked the alliteration in the title.  But, more importantly, never did I feel farther from being a lady than when I had cancer.  See, when you are fighting cancer, you are no longer a woman of refinement.  Gentle manners?  Those fly out the door every time you have chemo.  Well-spoken?  Well…I used a few four letters words, and they were not the word lady.

So, you see, to me I was anything but a lady when I went through cancer.  But, that became my rallying cry… “this is sooo un-lady-like” I would wail.  But in seeing all the un-ladylike aspects of cancer, I also began to see how I could be a lady, despite them.  My goal was to be refined, to be polite, to have gentle manners during treatment.  I started to see that I could be radiant, even if I felt horrible.

The book idea was to pit two topics that are furthest from each other: cancer and lady.  So, we talk about all the ugliness of cancer and we share how you can be a lady despite that.  Some people have suggested that the book might sell even better if we remove the word lady from the title.  I have been thinking about it, but I don’t think that is the right answer.

This isn’t about selling a ton of books (though I would love it if that were to happen).  This is about empowering women to be better than they ever thought possible, while fighting cancer.  This is encouraging women to smile and be radiant every day, even when they feel miserable.  This is offering up the little ideas that can make a world of difference in how we look or feel as we go through treatment.  Isn’t that what a lady does?  I don’t know if I succeed, but it is what this lady tries to do.