Cancer May Steal my Health; It Won't Steal my Joy
When you can't control what's happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what's happening. That's where your power is.
Have you seen this meme floating around on social media? It really spoke to me.
It reminded me of my friend Jane. I first met Jane about a year ago when she sent me a long email after reading a blog I had written. Jane has a couple of kids, a loving husband, and a thriving business. And cancer. Her cancer, unfortunately, overshadows everything that is good in her life.
Life changes due to cancer
When we first began corresponding, she was NED (no evidence of disease), still able to work, and feeling good physically. But, not mentally. She spent all of her time worrying about dying and leaving behind her beautiful kids and husband.
None of us want to die. All of us have things we still want to do, places we want to go, people we want to see, memories we want to make.
Likewise, none of us has been happy when we got our cancer diagnoses. The day we learned that we were facing the battle of and for our lives is one that is probably etched in every one of our minds. I got my diagnosis about six years ago. Even though chemo brain steals a lot of my memories, I remember everything about that day. I bet you do, too. It was traumatic and scary.
Our diagnosis crossroad
Our diagnosis put us at a crossroad. We have a myriad of doctor appointments, scans and other tests, biopsies, infusions ... We relinquish a lot of control over our time and physical bodies.
However, we still have the power to choose how we are going to face this journey. From the beginning, I decided that I was going to live my life for as long as I was able. Cancer can come along with me, but it isn't going to govern my thoughts or steal my joy of living.
There have certainly been days when I felt horrible from my treatments; when I was unable to do much besides moan, vomit, and sleep. But, you know, there have been lots more days where I could run agility with my dogs, go to movies with friends, meet for dinner, and even go to the gym to work out. I've gotten to travel and see more of the United States than I ever did before my diagnosis. Cancer is in my life, but it rarely dominates it.
Which path will you decide to take?
Jane has taken a different road. While she and her family have made some exciting trips to exotic places like Hawaii, she let worry dominate her emotions, control her reactions, and overshadow the good times.
Recently, I got another email from Jane with the dreadful news that her tumors are growing and spreading. Unless a new clinical trial she is waiting to join gives her a miracle, she may not make it to next year.
This news crushed me. I hate that her worst fears may come true and that she'll leave behind her family. But, I am also saddened by the fact that when she could have been making pleasurable memories with her family, they are all marred by her worry and fears.
Our joy, our decision
Circling back to the meme. We lose control over so much when we are diagnosed with cancer. But, we don't have to let it steal our joy. We can still make happy memories. It is our decision.
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?