Adult female holds a light in her hands, hope

Don't Stop Believing

Something I teach and will advocate until the end of time is this simple saying. Life is full of choices. Each of us hangs our hat on perceptions that confirm our own beliefs. Often generated by habits; beliefs, values, and opinions are developed concepts. We gather data by experience; exposure to what we see and hear; or most often, by what we learn. Then we draw conclusions.

Everywhere we go through life, teachers are ready to contribute. At times we gather insights that served generations before us. They carry no direct meaning to your life, but you hold on to them as if they are gold. Believing that everyone does their best in trying to cope, I have learned to forgive when people insist that their way is the high way.

Early lessons about messages

For example, every day before leaving our home, my sweet mother called out, "Be careful." "Have fun in school" or simply "I love you" was not her message. Her perspective came from growing up at a time when the streets were not safe for children.

A chance interpretation: "The world is a dangerous place." Luckily my father taught me the value of risk-taking. Off I would go, despite my fears, to meet and greet the world.

Putting aside the fear

It is time to believe in yourself. You are strong and awesome.

Cancer does many things to us. It leaves us physically weak and feeling vulnerable. This in turn makes us question ourselves and our ability to make decisions. As a result, it often takes twice the time and energy to do things we used to do.

To counter this effect, you may need to enlist some help. Steven Covey tells us, "We can write and live our own scripts more than most people acknowledge."

It may be time to rewrite yours. Take out your list of beliefs. Examine them and decide why they are present today. Do they support you or do they belong to someone else? When absolute statements are made to contrive wisdom, they not only stand in the way of reasonable judgment but create biases and prejudices that cause underlying fear. We already have plenty to frighten us in this life.

Time to roar

  • Maintain control over the things you can control
  • Fill your life with loving people
  • Limit thoughts that overwhelm you and frighten you
  • Collect data from reputable resources
  • Acknowledge fears and accept realities
  • Communicate your thoughts and your feelings
  • Observe your behavior for changes
  • Accept support by letting people know what you need
  • Change the things you can
  • Live in the now

So when people tell me cancer is a death sentence, I acknowledge that many people die from conditions contributed by cancer. However, many people learn to live with cancer. You and I are doing this now.

Remember, "For everything, there is a season, a beginning and an end and in the middle there is life."

It may sometimes feel as though cancer has control like no other experience in life.  However, the greatest of all denial is around the awareness and acceptance that death is as certain as life. More often death arrives without a warning and without time to prepare.

Cancer gives us a newfound awareness

Yet, those of us who have cancer may now have a new awareness - a period at the end of a sentence. There are times I grieve this reality and there are other times I embrace it and look for the lessons. Can you account for the many gifts provided to you in life and the chance to give back? From the wisdom of the Dutch Catholic priest, writer, and theologian, try asking:

"Did I offer peace today or bring a smile to someone's face? Were the words of healing spoken? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Was I able to forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions..."

Peace, my friends.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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