Hearing Cancer, “The Big C,” or even “The C Word” makes people weak in the knees and sick to their stomachs. We’ve seen family and friends and their life change dramatically as the result of a cancer diagnosis. All too many have witnessed death, long-term illness, and anxiety at cancer’s hand.
When I first learned about my thyroid cancer diagnosis, I didn’t think I was going to die from the cancer itself; but I did realize that the anxiety filled life I was living was going to kill me if I didn’t make some changes.
Seven years later on the path of life and currently cancer-free; I am continuing to discover “My Gifts of Cancer,” an on-going list of insights and blessings that I’d like to share:
My Gifts of Cancer
Cancer Gift # 1: Knowing we will all die.
There it is I said it; one day each and every one of us will die. By acknowledging that we are going to leave this earth, I realize that I have nothing left to lose by living. Said another way, I have everything to gain by releasing my anxiety, learning, and experiencing life to the fullest! (Pause a moment and read this again, we each have nothing to lose by living a full life.)
Cancer Gift # 2: Knowing we are not our job, our possessions or even our bodies.
My ego was so busy telling me that I “should” be this or have that, or act this way before my diagnosis. When I heard “You have cancer,” that fairy tale about who I thought I was crumbled into a heap of rubble at my feet. Once my imaginary story disappeared, the real work began, the work of discovering who I am and envisioning who I’d like to become in the future.
Cancer Gift # 3: Knowing the fundamental core of every human being is love.
I am love, you are love and we are all love, plain and simple; and everything else in this life is accessories. I used to think I had to do something or be someone to experience love. Once I realized our core of humanity is love, loving and being lovable, I began to see it show up everywhere in the world. Life is really all about relationships and love is a way of sharing our interconnectedness as human beings.
My cancer scare changed my life. I’m grateful for every new, healthy day I have. It has helped me prioritize my life. –Olivia Newton-John
Cancer Gift # 4: Knowing one’s unique essence is as essential as sunlight.
Essence is a pure manifestation of who we are individually as human beings. To express our essence we use words and symbols as metaphors to describe our deepest selves. When I realized my essence is: warmth, energy, compassion, cheerfulness, playfulness and brilliance, my whole world shifted. I could feel myself embodying these words and my life becoming brighter and richer, easier even. Each of us has an essence within us that is waiting to be discovered and conveyed to the universe.
Cancer Gift # 5: Knowing fear is just a paper dragon.
Fear ;and anxiety shows up everywhere when you learn of your diagnosis; from which stage of cancer, to treatment options, to the fear of how this will impact your everyday life. Fear is worry about the future; if you can begin to focus more on the present moment or that which is here with you right now; you may begin to notice that your fear dissipates. When you realize that you have the ability to cut, trim, and change the paper dragon of fear into a bird of peace life begins to feel a bit less scary.
Cancer Gift # 6: Knowing we always have a choice.
Ultimately each one of us as adults has the opportunity to choose what we want and need from life. By reminding ourselves that choices are always available, we connect with our ability to make the best decision in the present moment. When in doubt refer to Cancer Gift #1, we always have a choice until our death, thank goodness!
Who I was as a person before my cancer is very different from the person I am today. This is not a value judgment related to being better or worse as a human being, rather an ability to be at peace with who I’ve always been, who I am now and who I want to become in the future. Each of us is always changing, learning, and growing from life’s experiences if we allow ourselves to be open to them. Cancer became just another of life’s gifts for me, for it allowed me to be open to discovering my “presence.” May you too be open to the gifts and presents that appear in your life every day.
Questions for your Journal:
- Which gift am I most accepting in my life right now?
- Which gift am I refusing?
- How could I fully choose all life has to offer?
- How can I reduce my present day anxiety?