Cancer’s 3 Blessings

Cancer's 3 Blessings by da-AL

Before I became a podcaster/blogger/novelist, I worked as a journalist, and sometimes produced promotional videos. Years ago, a non-profit agency that helps people emotionally deal with cancer hired my business partner and me to produce one for them.

The afternoon we were to tape a talk-therapy group, I braced myself.

As it turned out, these were no mere survivors. They were warriors committed to savoring every bit of wonderfulness from every moment they had left. Those people, sick as they were, regarded cancer as a blessing.

To my mind, they were kidding either themselves or me. Nonetheless, the tears I shed behind the camera’s lens gave way to smiles. Their stories, to my amazement, were filled with hope, gratitude, and acceptance. I left certain they were made of far sterner stuff than me.

Forward to some years later… In 2007, I was diagnosed with cancer.

To put it mildly, I was scared witless. So freaked, that I couldn’t sleep for a month. Fighting with my insurance company and doctors added to the nightmare.

It took me time… a long while… to understand what those people had spoken of. Eventually, though, same as for them, cancer has indeed enhanced my life.

Here are only three of the many blessings cancer imparted to me:

1. Staying focused and positive leads me to my highest self.

Round the clock, I obsessed while I waited for my illness to be categorized and quantified. Questions tormented me…

How did I get this? How to rid myself of it? How do I ensure it never touches my life again? How will my illness hurt my loved ones? How much longer until I die?

In desperation, I thought a detox could be the answer. If the lump could be sweated out, then hot yoga might do that. Insane with fear as I was, suddenly the prospect of exercising in 105-plus-degrees sounded worth trying.

It took conventional medicine (which I complimented with alternative therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese herbs) to resolve my cancer — but hot yoga healed me in other ways. The laser focus needed to survive those initial classes renewed my spirit. The full-length mirrors taught me as much about what I could achieve as the instructors did.

For one thing, when I thought only of how miserable I felt, I couldn’t do any of the poses. For another, if I did them while truly experiencing a positive word such as “healthy,” “happy,” “joy,” or “love,” I fared way better. My steady poses reflected back in those mirrors confirmed it.

2. All of us deserve to live.

Like too many other kids, especially little girls, I was raised to believe that my own needs were secondary to those of others and that I wasn’t smart enough to have opinions or make decisions.

At the worst of my ordeal, I decided that because I had never accomplished anything extraordinary and probably never would, I did not deserve to live.

That rocked me — clear into the second wisdom that cancer imparted. Deciding I was no better than a cockroach or a flea made me realize if they deserve to live, so do I! My ordinary mortal best is enough.

3. Sometimes happiness comes easily. Other times it requires effort. Regardless, it’s always worth striving for. Life is meant to be joyful…

Perpetual dread that the worst was near eclipsed my life. Then I had the good luck to meet a volunteer for The American Cancer Society. She’d had cancer twenty years earlier and listened patiently to what I was going through.

Then she relayed the story of someone she knew. After a decade of being cancer-free, her friend continued to be anxious that cancer would strike again, this time fatally. Over those ten years, several of that friend’s loved ones had passed away from accidents and natural causes. The volunteer reasoned, “No one can predict the future, not when we’re going to die or from what.”

Her wisdom allowed me to see that worry, if I continued to allow it, was sucking the vitality from my life worse than cancer ever could.

What has a challenge taught you?

112 thoughts on “Cancer’s 3 Blessings”

  1. I am a cancer survivor—diagnosed with leukemia some 12 years ago. Was always waiting for the other shoe to fall until my doctor said he was convinced I was cured. You see, unbeknown to me they’d only given me 3 months after the chemotherapy, but that’s not what God spoke to my spirit. He told me as I got off the gurney at Emory, after my initial diagnosis, “This sickness is not unto death. Whose report will you believe? I cannot tell you that on some of my days my faith wasn’t in the greatest places, but God was. What did I learn from this experience—It is God who has the last say so concerning all manners of man, we should never take our lives for granted and there are just some things money cannot buy. Blessings and Peace.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautifully written Daal…those who haven’t experienced it themselves or seen their near and dear ones fight the fight will never know what you’re talking about…and for those whose lives are ravaged by it…know better…much love to you 🤗💟

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very insightful post! 2017-2018 was one of the hardest moments of my life. My grandmother who helped raise me died, my husband was gravely ill, we were getting kicked out of the house we were renting, I was working overtime due to the workload. I was studying for a certification I needed for my job (failed the first time and had to retake the test) and then my other grandmother passed away. I was near the end of my rope. But it was then that I learned what it really meant to take one day at a time and to rely on God. I was under so much stress that I would cry myself to sleep. But two scriptures helped me change my mindset. 1 Peter 5:6,7 invites us to throw our burden on Jehovah God because he cares for us. I read that scripture a million times before but at that time I realized I was trying to carry these burdens by myself. I learned to only focus on what I could control and no longer worried about anything else. That probably saved me from a heart attack or stroke. Matthew 6:27-34 reminded me to stop being anxious but to deal with each trial one day at a time not worrying about the next day. I had to stay in the present and not worry myself about the what ifs of tomorrow. That saved me from a panic attack. Getting through those hard times has helped me truly value my life, my husband, family and friends. I’m more focused on what truly matters in life and I’m a much better person because of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh da-AL, reading the part on deserving to live nearly made me cry. “I decided that because I had never accomplished anything extraordinary and probably never would, I did not deserve to live” – This is how I feel myself, and all the more since coming close to, well, not being alive. Losing my job messed with my head quite a lot and I’ve come to realise how much I – and so many in our societies that value work, income and insane productivity – equate worthiness to such things. But if I were to speak with another person about their situation, I would say that’s a load of nonsense because nobody earns the right to live or to be happy, those things just ‘are’. I’m sorry you’ve felt the same difficulties around this right to live.

    I can only try to empathise with what you went through the best I can as I’ve not had cancer and of course your experiences are uniquely your own anyway. Your insights are priceless, so thank you for sharing them with us  ♥

    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

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