Cancer is such an oddity. Truly, it’s fascinating to me. It strikes whomever and whenever it wishes and you have no warning. It is no respecter of persons and it doesn’t care whether you like it or not, it’s coming to take up residence regardless! Most cancer patients go through the stages of grief and that’s o.k., just don’t stay there! I want to tell you a few things I’ve learned about what cancer can do for you. That’s right – there can be an upside – you may have to look for it, but I promise you, it’s there.
It Can Help You To Appreciate Life
How on earth can something so sinister as cancer help you do anything positive? Well, I’m glad you asked! Here’s what I think (and I find that I’m not alone):
When cancer decided to knock on my own door, it scared me. I suppose I went through some of the grieving process, but I didn’t allow myself to continue down that path. I know from experience, the sooner you can get out of that rut, the better!
As I began my treatment and (seemingly endless) doctor visits, I decided that this was going to be a good experience. Did you catch that? I DECIDED. This is key! I’ve actually had people look at me like I have three eyes when I would say that I was thankful for my cancer! I realize that they just didn’t understand and that’s o.k.
Before getting my prognosis and as I went along through treatments, I started to look at life differently. I’ve heard people say that cancer took away their ability to plan for the future. I would like to remind you that not one of us is guaranteed a future, so we must learn to appreciate each and every day in a new and special way. Cancer just has a way of bringing that concept into focus – or slapping us with a dose of reality – however you choose to look at it!
Before you start to picture me with a ring of daisies on my head and dancing in a meadow, let me tell you that each day has it’s challenges, but choosing joy really makes a difference. And it wasn’t long before I would just appreciate all the little things that I use to take for granted.
My friend Tim said it best when he said this: “Cancer gave me the chance (ability) to slow down and appreciate the small things I took for granted. A beautiful sunset or sunrise, birds frolicking in my yard, watching kids be kids. Things like that.”
It Can Draw You Closer To God
My faith was bolstered because of cancer. One day, out of the blue (seemingly) my entire world changed! This was no surprise to God though. I knew exactly what I needed to do. It was to draw nearer to Him than I had ever done before. I have always appreciated His Word and I take it very seriously. He has brought me through other trials and I had no reason to doubt Him now.
I’ve had people ask me where God went when they needed Him. I always say that God didn’t go anywhere. He never moves. WE move. In my own life, I’ve moved away from Him many times. One of the many wonders of God is that He never moves. He just doesn’t force us to come to Him. I love that about Him.
During my down times when all I could do was rest, I found such great comfort in reading my Bible. God showed Himself to me in a very real way. If you’re like me, when you’re down, you sometimes just need a hug. Well, God hugged me. Big time!
There were many days where I sat alone and had the blessing of just experiencing Him in a deep way. I would cry out to Him and He heard me. The comfort that He brings is indescribable. If you’ve never experienced this, I feel sorry about that.
It Will Allow You To Bless Others
This is a lesson that took me some time in learning. You see, I have always been the ‘fixer’. You know the type – the person who everyone goes to for answers. It doesn’t matter what the question is either, they just seem to always come to me. And I LOVE that!
Well, sometimes the ‘fixer’ can’t fix something and the ‘fixer’ needs some help. Let me tell you, that is a hard lesson to learn.
When I started chemo, my youngest daughter April wanted to arrange for meals to be brought in just for the few days around chemo. When she first suggested it, I told her that we really didn’t need that – it was just Dad and me and, after all, Dad can fry a mean egg! She pressed so I agreed.
Two things I learned here. The first one is that my pride was PRETTY big and by not allowing someone to help really meant that I was too prideful to take help! Plain and simple. The second thing I learned was that by allowing others to help, I was allowing them to be blessed!
WOW! When that sunk into my thick skull, it was awesome! Our church is a true representation of what Christ meant His Church to be. They truly minister to the needs of their members. Moms would come with their little ones who had colored pictures just for me! They told me stories of how they would spend some of their family prayer time just praying for ME! Oh my heart! I tear up each time I think about it.
My point is that if I hadn’t allowed others to help, I would have deprived them of a wonderful blessing. They were teaching their children how to be grown up Christians! How awful would it be had I not agreed to that?
It Will Slow You Down To ‘Smell The Roses’
Tim alluded to this earlier, but I have to add that whether it be roses, coffee, or mud, just stop and appreciate it! We take so much for granted in this life that it’s shameful really. There’s no magic formula for this, just do it!
It Breaks Down Walls
Looking back to my days of treatment, I recall seeing many different kinds of people who were all there for the same reason. There were young people, old people. There were heavy people and thin people. Some had hair and some did not. There were people who I’m sure were very well off financially and others who didn’t know how they would pay for their treatments. There were parents of young children and there were grandparents.
Cancer doesn’t really care who you are or what your status is in life. Each of these patients was in the same vulnerable position and had one thing in common. When there were opportunities to chat I found that we were all very much the same.
My oncologist said recently that one of his patients made this comment, “I think everyone should experience cancer for one day in their lives.” It sounds crazy to some, but to me it makes great sense. Cancer changes everything! And if you look at it in the right way, it can change you for the better.
What about you? Has cancer changed you? Has it been for the better, or not? Please drop me a line and tell me about your own experience. Perhaps you can be featured in our ‘Thriver’s Corner’. I’d love to hear your own story.