Cancer is behind me, I feel confident, but for many, it is just starting and there are those who are in transition from treatment to recovery. Given your circumstance, how do you view the year ahead?
I’ve always felt that hope is eternal. Hope may not always be realistic, but miracles abound through hope. Our mind is a powerful force not to be taken lightly. It has the capacity to turn the tide on situations that at first seem dire and without hope.
Would I have said this when I was diagnosed back in the fall of 1990? No, but shortly afterwards I recall that I had budding hope within me. It became the foundation of my thought process to ensure that I healed my life to give myself the best chance for survival.
These are some of my ‘attitudes’ that have helped me move to health:
- Staying at the Lodge across from the Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C., my cancer buddy and I would have many conversations. We were there together, as was our custom since we became roommates in the hospital where we had surgery. Our conversation was ‘We don’t belong here.’ I felt that cancer was just a stage in my life, not my life – or the end of my life.
- When I researched the statistics on my type of cancer (Stage 3, triple negative breast cancer), I was determined to be in the percentage that survived. This type of cancer is very aggressive with the survival rate for the first three years much lower than other breast cancers.
- Throughout my life, I have always set big goals and then followed them. More often than not, it was to see if I really could accomplish what I set out to do. Surprisingly and now understandably, I did accomplish my goals. It’s the mind. What you set out to do, you can do. The same thought process works for positive and negative. Be careful about what you think, it can come true.
- There were side effects we were advised could happen. One in particular was dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, a condition that manifests after radiation. A medicine was prescribed by the nurse on duty at the Lodge. This medicine would alleviate the problem if we experienced it over the weekend when we were at home. I vowed emphatically that this definitely was not going to happen to me. And, it didn’t. It did for others.
These are just a few examples of how strong our mind is and how powerful our vision or images are in combating insurmountable odds.
The Year Ahead
I know for those going through treatment, the year ahead may seem uncertain. Unfortunately and realistically, life is always uncertain. We think we are in control of our lives, but not necessarily. We do have input for sure. One thing I recall understanding fairly early on was there would be many things in my life which I had absolutely no control over; one of these being when I would die. What I realized was the fact that I did have control over how I lived in each moment. I could choose to be happy, sad, hopeful, scared. I chose to look at life as full of opportunity and choice. I was determined to live life to the fullest every day – and that is still my motto. I will live fully until I die.
Do we all have this choice?
I would like to think we do. Some may not agree with me. There are always extenuating circumstances. However, I truly believe that we have much more influence over our lives than we even know. The Universe – God – however, you define the Higher Power is there for us. We have to be clear on what we need and then the magic happens. The other part of this is we are often given what we need, but not necessarily what we request. That’s the hard part. This concept has been tested by me repeatedly and it is real.
Last year at this time, I talked about doing a Vision Board. The one I have posted on the door to my office has been shredded by my cat. He’s definitely a mischief. The message – create a new one. And I will. Life evolves. What works for a long time suddenly seems to shift and new understandings take shape. We have to be open and flexible to change. Change is difficult and hard to accept. However, change is what makes life interesting and challenging. Change is the constant in life as much as we would like it otherwise.
What changes are you considering this coming year, if any? In your mind, what do you envision? Sometimes, these thoughts are buried deep in our subconscious and a tool such as the Vision Board is a fun way to bring them to the surface. For me, this past year it has been the writing process of my book. One morning I woke up and it was clear what had shifted. I’m still on purpose, but heading off in a little different track that will be more aligned with who I am and what I love to do. My purpose is still focused on helping others through the cancer journey.
What about you? What does 2016 look like for you? Where are you on the cancer journey? Is it new for you, still raw and fearful, or have you moved into recovery and feeling your way to what works for you. Maybe you are a few to more years beyond your cancer phase of life. Wherever you are on the continuum of this journey, what is working for you? Are there aspects of your life that are shifting? What would you change or challenge or even just accept with gratitude?
Traveling into 2016
As you consider these questions, know that I am also doing the same. It is my habit to re-evaluate situations from time to time, especially when it seems I’m pushing a rock uphill. It is usually a message that I’m on the wrong track and need to find the one that flows more smoothly.
As you journey into 2016, my thoughts and prayers are with you. We can do it together and share what we have learned along the way. My prayer is that you will find what gives you hope, purpose, joy, and fulfillment along with health.