Blog posts by survivors giving sugary sweet silver lining stories used to bother me because all I could see were dark clouds. I figured they hadn’t gotten much treatment thus having few side effects, or were late stage and truly grateful for being alive. I’m not trying to alienate either camp, cancer is cancer no matter how you slice it. I have tremendous respect for anyone who receives a diagnosis and manages to continue breathing. I had gotten a lot of treatment and I wasn’t grateful. It took several years for me to become transformed by my experience. I couldn’t see the gift in the darkness.
To this day, I wonder if I’d still be alive if I skipped chemo and radiation. The lumpectomy removed the tumor, we were cleaning up the remaining microscopic cancer cells that spread to my lymph nodes. Most doctors would say skipping treatment is crazy talk, your first shot is your best shot. I can’t go back and change the past, so it’s futile to dwell on my treatment decisions. It’s my job to exercise, eat right, get enough sleep and find a creative outlet for my frustrations.
Is there a silver lining? I suppose so. Having cancer gave me the courage to follow my dreams of becoming a writer. The people who understand and encourage me the most are also on a creative path. When I doubt myself, I get off track. When my inner critic wants to ruin something for me, I stop and ask, “What are you so afraid of?” When I seek to inspire and be inspired, the opportunities present themselves. When you’re in the dark, you have to search for the light. We all need hope, healing and relief. Challenges strengthen our character making us more perceptive and resilient.
I give myself permission to dream, dance and stumble. To love what I love and be what I be. I can answer my soul calling, live my purpose, declare my bliss and shine my light.
Does cancer make you ask the hard questions? Yes.
Am I living my life in a way that is meaningful to me? Yes.
Are there things I would’ve done differently? Yes.
Am I still a good person worthy of love and respect? HELL YES!