Learning from Cancer by da-AL

Photo of daisy wearing glassesPhoto: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Years before I was diagnosed with cancer, an agency that facilitated emotional support groups for people with cancer hired me to produce a video for them.

The morning my partner and I gathered our camera equipment, I braced myself for an emotionally trying day. Listening to the stories of those battling to live, I did my best not to cry as I stood behind the lens.

By the end of the videotaping session, I felt uplifted by their strength — and mystified! How could many of them speak of cancer as a blessing?

In 2007, I too was diagnosed with cancer. At first, I was angry, sad, frustrated, and terrorized. It took time for cancer to reveal its lessons to me.

Photo of a group of mallard ducks walking Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

Learning that happiness is worth fighting for has changed me profoundly. Early on, a sage cancer warrior recounted how a friend of hers dreaded when his cancer would kill him, yet he outlives many loved ones. The wise woman told me, “No one can predict how long they’ll live. We’re lucky for every day.”

Day and night, as I endured my illness being categorized, quantified, and treated, I obsessed over how I might have contracted it…how to get rid of it…how to never get it again…how it would hurt my loved ones…and on and on…

When I tried was hot yoga, the laser focus it demanded quieted my mind. The full length mirrors reflected how, if I dwell on what hurts and what I fear, then my yoga suffers. They showed me how, when I physically and mentally resonate words like ‘happy,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love,’ possibility becomes reachable.

Photo of bee at purple flowers Photo: Gratisography.com Ryan McGuire.

It’s a wonder that my worrying didn’t kill me. Often I wondered if someone as ordinary as me deserved to live. Eventually, I figured that I’ve got as much of a right to breath as do cockroaches and fleas. And that I’ve got something to say, which is how this blog started (as did the two novels I’m writing!)…

Life is always a gift, and that includes all of our experiences.

Has illness taught you any lessons?

32 thoughts on “Learning from Cancer by da-AL

  1. I was diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2000. I learned a lot from it and from my recovery. When I was waiting for surgery I organized everything in my life to be prepared in case I died. I found that interesting. I went into my surgery feeling quite calm. I’d had a good life and had experienced so many wonderful things. If I was to die then so be it. But I didn’t and I’m still here. I think the cancer helped me to realize how lucky I was to have more time here on this earth, to see my children grow up and become independent adults and to have a grandchild. At times when i start to worry about something I remind myself I am lucky to still be here and have something to worry about.

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  2. Well done for being so positive and looking at the life lessons learned.
    I find that people who have never been sick or had an ongoing illness take their good health for granted. Sometimes you need to experience the bad to really appreciate living.

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  3. Thank you for sharing… while cancer has not affected me physically, yet, I helped my late wife (and others) (she passed away in 2015) with cancer for 4 years I learned a lot about life and living it… 🙂

    “There are things that we may not want to happen but have to accept, things we may not want to know but have to learn and people we cannot live without but have to let go ”.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother passed away from breast cancer at 75.

    She had a lump for about 6 years and refused to get it checked, regardless of how much everyone tried to convince her. As a Naturopath and Homeopath since the 1970s, she believed she could cure herself with natural remedies.

    Sadly, after 8 years and seeing her once healthy vegan body being devoured by cancer, she succumbed. If this wasn’t hard enough, her refusal to take any medication or pain killers until the very end, was excruciating – even medical staff were in tears as everyone lived through her pain. When she slipped into a coma for a few weeks, we instructed usage of pain killers as we could still see from her facial expressions that she was in a lot of pain.

    Although I wasn’t close to her, she was still my mother and I did care for her so, was there until the end and the only person in the room. I still can’t understand how someone that treasured their body as a temple, could allow cancer to destroy her body without at least trying something. I know it’s a personal choice, but then again, you can’t influence a fundamentalist.

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  5. Lessons? 🙂 Yes, my mother. Almost to the last weeks, she managed to walk a few steps around the room. Her phrase was: “Ne mollissons pas”. Let’s not get soft. And she’d walk a few steps. To an armchair. Rest a bit, Get up and walk back to bed.
    Have a nice wee-end.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Before my mother got cancer, I was depressed for about 9 years and even if I made it out okay, I was still far from the person I am today. Then when my mother got sick and I took upon me the care for her, I would sit on my bed at night and just wait for the depression to come back, but it never did. I learned I am much stronger than I thought I was. And that making future plans for years to come is useless, for you never know what life gives you.

    I am happy you are here today, Daal, in good health (I hope!) and as happy and positive as you are 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • many thanks, Samantha, for your kind thoughts. also for your honest sharing — how interesting — each of us are so fortunate to find a moment in our lives that shows us the depth of what a gift it is to be alive…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Daal, I’ve known many cancer warriors, as you call them, and many have fortunately survived this dreaded disease and gone on to productive and happy lives. Your story is unique. You have the power of articulate expression, and you put me into your shoes as you struggled with your physical needs and your emotional equilibrium. I’ve often heard that a positive attitude helps to fight any illness. Please know that you are of course entitled to live, and to love, to create, to exult, to enjoy – and even to cry once in a while. Your life is not at all ordinary – you are a warrior woman with so much to share with the rest of us. And I’m happy you’re still with us.

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