Worry: The Great Thief
Worry. It seems to be an emotion that afflicts so many of us. My mother could worry with the best of them. I used to tell her that if she didn't have something legitimate to worry about, she would make something up to fret about, to keep her up at night. I never understood it.
I think the fact that I grew up with someone who could and did worry about anything and everything, I adopted the complete opposite stance. I do not worry about very much at all, especially when it directly concerns me.
Worries, Before and After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis
When I was first diagnosed with lung cancer, my primary care doctor asked my husband and me to come report to her after our visits with the oncologist. (I wish everyone was as lucky as we are to have a primary care doctor like her. She is beyond awesome.) So, we were in her office after our first visit with the oncologist and she asked us, "How are you doing? Do I need to prescribe you anything to help you sleep? Do you need something to help calm you down? Is there anything I can do to help you as you deal with your new diagnosis?"
We looked at one another and then at her, both of us shaking our heads back and forth. The cancer diagnosis was not something we expected. But, it was just a new bump in a road that had been fairly bumpy throughout our lives together. Neither of us was losing sleep over it, nor were we allowing it to cause great anxiety.
The Reasons I Don't Worry
There are several reasons, I think, that we did not worry initially and haven't worried since about what the outcome of this fight might be.
- Our faith is strong. I know not everyone believes the same as I do, but I believe that when I die, I will end up walking on streets of gold with my Lord and Savior. I tell people I am in a win-win situation. You see, I love living life here on earth. But, hello? When I die, I go to Heaven. Heaven! Where there are no worries and sadness no longer exists. This belief fills me with great peace. What is there to worry about when Heaven is the consequence of this earthly life ending?
- Worry doesn't change anything. I ask people who are big worriers what it is that they are accomplishing with their worry, except making themselves miserable. Does worrying about the upcoming CT scan change what the results will be? The debilitating fear that some people face the week or so before their scan has absolutely no impact on what the outcome of that scan will be. All the worry does is make them completely miserable when they could be living their life.
- Worry steals today. I have a friend who is so worried about dying that he is not living while he is alive. Now, this friend's cancer treatments are working. His tumors are stable. His doctor tells him he is doing well. He feels okay physically. But, he is paralyzed by worry. And, instead of enjoying life, making memories with his kids and his wife, he is wringing his hands and letting worry steal today.
Changing Our Perspective
My daughter-in-law told me I should tell my friends who worry to listen to the Tim McGraw song, Live Like You Were Dying. I had not heard the song, but after listening to it, I have to say that it captures my attitude about worry ... and not falling victim to it.
The lyrics go, in part,
"When you get that kind of news?
Man, what'd you do?"
"I went skydiving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
I was finally the husband
That most of the time I wasn't
And I became a friend a friend would like to have..." 1
Nowhere does the song say, "I worried away today. I quit living while I was still alive."
Do you find that staying zen through your lung cancer diagnosis has helped you in your journey?