Friday, January 13, 2012

Fear of Recurrence

Happy New Year!

And now for the mail (edited for length):

Your book was recommended to me by a nurse since I had Stage 2b breast cancer. She thought your book might help me feel a little better and that it might help me deal with some issues I had. She was right and I enjoyed it very much. I will be reaching my 1 year diagnosis date on Feb. 23. I'm told the type I had could return at any time because it was in my lymph nodes plus it was an ugly aggressive cancer. Even though I am a Christian and must believe God can heal and is in control, it is hard to ignore the previous statement from the Dr. What are your thoughts to help me with this issue?

Two of my favorite words in the English language: both/and. You can both believe your doctor and believe God can heal. For one thing, your doctor said your cancer could return at any time and that could be 2050. That's the definition of "any time," although we like to think it means "in the next few months."

If you find you are living in a way that is mindful, generous, forgiving, compassionate and playful, because you think cancer could return any second--then carry on.

But if you find that thinking this way has made you fearful, contracted, irritable, impatient and close-minded, then STOP THINKING THIS WAY.

Seriously. I've seen it go either way. Fear of recurrence can liberate you and/or cripple you.

The thought of recurrence crosses my mind a couple times a day and when it does it's like a wake-up call.

Hello? Don't waste a moment.

That doesn't mean I'm crazy busy, it means I'm conscious, aware, curious and grateful for whatever I'm engaged in at the moment: making coffee, turning over in bed, scratching the dog, taking out the garbage, having a bowel movement.

Both/And. It can both drive you crazy and set you free.

And don't worry about choosing between God and your doctor. You know what they say about doctors: they all think they're God anyway.

I'm so glad you liked my book and thanks for taking the time to write.


Anonymous said...

Dear Debra-

Just want you to know that I have read your book and regularly follow along on the blog. I have found both to be quite insightful and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving voice to such important sentiments.

Best wishes to you and keep it coming! :-)

Anonymous said...

On a ‘last visit’ my oncologist casually mentioned, “You know this will come back, right?”. I looked at him and thought, “Was that really necessary?”. Necessary? Maybe not. But helpful? Turns out it sure was. It’s been a decade now but I still wake each morning with thankfulness. And because of this, as I put on my shoes I pray to God, “Today take me where I’m suppose to go.” Take me where you need me. Take me where I can do good. Take me. You’re so correct Debra, don’t waste a moment. I’ve learned to relish the past and have hope for the future. But I live within the joy of now.