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Many of you are just beginning your cancer journey and are feeling scared and alone, wondering if there’s anyone else out there who knows how you’re feeling. I do. I vividly remember not being able to think about anything else, wondering if I would be here next year, or the year after that. I was terrified, panic-stricken and depressed.
I remember cowering in my car in PetSmart’s parking lot, crying hysterically, unable to pull myself together to go in and buy dog food, or get on the highway and drive home. I was desperate to the point of wondering if the lady coming out of PetSmart had any experience with cancer and could empathize with me, maybe put her arms around me and tell me everything would be alright. I watched her get in her car and drive away. She seemed so carefree… so normal, and I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t have this out of control desperation like the sky was falling, and it would miss everyone but me.
Tara Parker-Pope, Well blogs writer for the NYTimes.com, has been collecting cancer survivor stories. I have spent the morning reading their words and have come to the conclusion that for the most part, cancer survivors have two things in common: gratitude and a new found zest for life. Here are some of the common words and phrases I’ve pulled from over 600 stories.
• Life is now a combination of brilliance and gratitude.
• The gift of cancer has changed my life.
• I now look at life through grateful eyes.
• Calmer and filled with more purpose.
• Life is not the same; it’s so much better.
• Cancer’s brought out the best in me and my family.
• I am more myself.
• I look at my family with added perspective.
• I am no longer afraid of death and dying.
• The darkest and scariest time of my life turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
• I love my life!
Cancer is terrifying, but it is also life changing. I’m not saying any of us would have deliberately chosen cancer, but as an instinctual coping mechanism, we have dug deep in search of our strengths and found the gifts cancer has brought us. You are at a crossroads, and many of the changes you incur and the roads you take are a choice. Choose wisely, dear ones, and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; and in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”