Life is hard. The sooner we learn that, the better. But, why does it seem like some people skate through life untouched by personal heartache, drama, or tragedy? It’s not true. It’s an illusion. Life is hard for everyone and we all suffer setbacks from time to time. It’s not what happens to us that counts – it’s how we respond to what happens that brings meaning to our lives.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt like there were lessons I was meant to learn through this burden, and I made a promise to myself that I would try to be open to what those lessons might be. I learned new lessons about control, trust, forgiveness, and self-determination in ways that felt overwhelming at the time.
Cancer gave me a profound appreciation for what it meant to be strong. For me, the two biggest gifts that cancer gave me were rebirth reawakening, and so for that I say, Thank you. I remember when my girls were little, I tried to teach them to be “big and brave.” When they would come from school and be sad about something that had happened, I always tried to show them that they had more inner courage than they thought they did. When they we too afraid to try something new, I would tell them that they could conquer whatever challenge they faced. They just needed to be “big and brave.” Now it was my turn. Now it was my lesson to learn.
With nowhere else to turn, I had to face the fact that I was the only one who could muster the courage to pull myself through this terrible cancer storm. No one could do it for me. It was all me. There was nothing left to do, but to be big and brave. After enduring eight months of pain, I had finally learned to abandon the illusion of control, and to instead just have faith. Faith that things were as they should be. Faith that I would always find the strength and courage to deal with what is presented to me.
Through all of this, I was still struggling with why I got cancer. I still felt let down and betrayed. I had always tried to do the right thing and had sacrificed my needs for the needs of others, yet I was the one who got cancer. Then it came. I was cleaning out books from my office, when a prayer card fell from one of the books. It was The Prayer of St Francis. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace….” It was like a lightning bolt had just struck. Was I being asked to be an instrument? Could it be that I was meant to share my story to show others the possibility of their own strength? Maybe that’s why I endured this terrible storm. Maybe God wanted my help. Stay strong, my Pink Sisters. Together we can endure this terrible storm and find a place of happiness and joy again. You can do this!