This past weekend I was discussing with my fiance the spiritual battle I face every morning concerning the number of potential roadblocks that can make my already difficult health restrictions seem impossible. She shared with me that while what I face is difficult, that everyone - in some shape or form - battles something similar in their life.
My fiance is one of the most sensitive, insightful, beautiful women in the world and the inspiration she gives me is one of the many blessings God has given me. I shared that because I don’t want to minimize the courage it takes everyone to do the best with the cards they are dealt. While we all might experience different levels that make our situations unique, take comfort in the fact that you aren’t the only one who is dealing with issues. Sometimes we tend to pity ourselves because we see our struggles as something that makes us look like a martian with three heads to others. I promise you that you are not looked at that way!
Moving on, Part 3 in our look at Rachael Yahne’s article “5 Things They Will Never Tell You About Life After Cancer” deals with fear.
There will be a new sense of fear in every part of your life
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Every aspect of life can be a truly frightening experience. However, when you are faced with the possibility of death it changes your perspective forever.
To help understand, imagine that you are shopping for Christmas presents and someone follows you home from the mall. As you are taking your packages into the house - all excited and happy thinking about the joy others will feel from your kindness - you then have a gun pressed against your head and can hear the springs cock to where one little motion from the perpetrator will blow your head across the lawn.
Ok…I know, I know…that is a tad bit dramatic, but I wanted to give you the extreme to help understand what a cancer survivor can tormented by on a daily basis.
A cancer survivor doesn’t just deal with common fears like getting into a car accident or having their mate leave them, they deal with what others can perceive as totally irrational fears.
Survive & Thrive: RachaelYahne.com
For a survivor that has already heard the devastating term ‘You have cancer”, they now try to adjust to how unprepared they were to hear those words when they were diagnosed with every aspect of their life.
Every mark on your body that to someone else might look like nothing is examined and can lead to crippling thoughts that ruin your day. Every pain you feel opens the door to “What if this is cancer?”, everything you put in your body you wonder if it will harm you. It can be an exhausting battle that you don’t see coming and by the time it is obvious can cause some major damage.
HOPE IS NOT LOST!
Before you reach for the pad to start writing your will, understand that these thoughts are NORMAL (as we round back up to the initial conversation I had with my fiance). Now the level of fear is different but rest in the fact that you aren’t the only one obsessing whether to have that mole on your back looked at.
The other good news is that the person writing this article is no better at handling this than anyone else. I would love to tell you that I rise above my fears everyday and conquer them like Tom Brady rallying to win in the final moments of a football game. I don’t.
As I mentioned before, I am not a hero, special or more equipped to handle life’s struggles than any of you are. I’m about as big a coward as you can get. A perfect example of that is this past weekend I did not get out of bed for two days because of a horrific experience I encountered publically dealing with Crohn’s disease. I convinced myself that I don’t have to try anymore and I can let my fears of humiliation take over my life cause no one understands poor Mark.
I wasn’t going to write this blog today and was ready to mail in an excuse that I’m sure most would have understood. However - again thanks to my wonderful fiance - she reminded me that while I don’t see it yet, that others might be looking to me to be an example and to stop feeling sorry for myself. I have a resposibility to those who take the time out of their day to reach my words (by the way, I’m very grateful for those who think enough of my writing to do that - you have no idea how much that makes me feel like I matter in this life. Now if I can only figure how to pay my bills by doing this!).
WHAT TO DO
When you face that fear, talk to a loved one. Reach out to me or the many other wonderful people in the cancer support groups on Facebook. I leave you with a phrase that has been linked back to Persian Sufi poets along with the retelling of a tale written by English writer Edward FitzGerald. Abraham Lincoln also used it in a speech before becoming the 16th President of the United States.
“This too shall pass”.
My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Mark Everett Kelly
NEXT BLOG ENTRY: August 22, 2019