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Finding Answers to Confounding Questions

Chemo, Cancer and Finding Answers to Confounding Questions

Dec 16, 2014

Cancer really scares me.

Statistics reveal that one in two men and one in three women will get cancer before the age of 85. That was a pretty alarming fact for me.

I want to believe I can guard myself from Cancer. I want to trust that as long as I eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, drink modestly, minimize stress, and avoid toxins, I will be ok.

But, that’s not always true, is it?

The truth is, anyone can get cancer. There are no guarantees.

The good news is, we can take action to minimize our risk of cancer. By eating well and making conscious choices about our wellness practices, we can bolster our immune systems so that they are in a better position to fight Cancer, should it strike.

I believe my overwhelming fear of the C word comes from having experienced it secondhand through three individuals who are very dear to me.

First, was my grandfather; he suffered from colon cancer when I was 12 years old. I remember only caring about making him feel comfortable any way I could. Even though he was stoic, I could see that he endured a lot of pain.

You see, my grandfather was an incredible man. He was a free spirit, and an angel in my eyes.  He was larger than life, and laughed, drank, and ate with gusto. He died at the young age of 61, and to me that seems unjust.

My second brush with Cancer was through my mother. Twenty years ago, she discovered she had cancer. I am grateful that she is still here and present with our family. I remember the moment vividly when I found out she was sick. I relived the fear, panic, and anxiety I felt when I was a young girl who was worried about her grandfather.

When my mother found out about her diagnosis, my parents, my brother, and I were on a holiday in India. My sister called us from Canada to inform my mom she received news from our family physician that mom needed to seek a second medical opinion to confirm the diagnosis.

Of course, my parents didn’t tell me this gut wrenching news right away. I found out the night I was scheduled to travel alone, back to Canada. That was the longest trip of my life, and I prayed like I have never prayed before. The cards were clearly laid out in front of me. I could choose fear or I could choose courage. Fortunately, positivity and faith enveloped our family and my mom was treated successfully.

My third encounter is through my dear girlfriend. She was recently diagnosed with ovarian Cancer. I am in awe of my friend’s attitude toward her illness. Her courage, positivity, zest for life, and the sweetness with which she is riding these waves are incredible for me to witness.

Over the past few months, as I support my friend through what will be the most testing and taxing experience of her life, I am left wondering what I can learn from Cancer.

What is Cancer here to teach me about life?

When I sit quietly, a gentle answer comes to my mind: I believe Cancer is trying to remind me to pause. To breathe. To savor the moments.

To be grateful. To keep a gratitude journal as a practice.

Eat whole foods. Nourish my body and mind every day.

Make time for myself. Start a hobby. Travel. Explore. Ask questions.

Connect with others. Schedule that dinner date now.

Don’t take life so seriously. Let go of what is out of my control.

Have faith. Don’t underestimate the strength of the spirit and the soul.

Smile often, especially to strangers. Practice acts of kindness. Give back to the community.

What about you? Has Cancer pushed its way into your life help you learn valuable lessons about living?

Share your experiences in the comments below.

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