October 13, 2020

What Cancer has Taught me about Resilience & the Dark Days.

I don’t watch the news and don’t allow myself to surf on social media for hours other than to get myself informed.

But I have noticed that people are finding it challenging to acknowledge and accept their new normal

Some may say it’s helpful to read positive quotes and research ideas on how to deal with this challenging time, but it is a different story when we are required to put it all into practice.

Let’s face it, COVID-19 has interrupted our lives—big time. We have never experienced anything like this in the history of our world; we are used to feeling totally in charge at all times.

Being confined home with our kids, parents, or friends and spending more time with our loved ones is not something we are accustomed to. Not going to the gym, grabbing a coffee when we want, and going for a run when we want feels like our freedom has been taken away from us.

I remember when I was told I had cancer. I thought to myself, “Is this real? Four days ago, I went into the hospital feeling unwell, and four days later, I have stage 3 bowel cancer. Am I about to have a life-threatening surgery?”

I spent quite a few days after that, waking up and thinking: is this real or am I dreaming?

Some days I would hang on to that thought for a little longer. I wanted to feel like there was a possibility that I didn’t have cancer. I would just sit there and think it was a bad dream.

But slowly, I’d learn to accept my new reality. 

I had 12 cycles of chemotherapy ahead of me, so I had a long way to go. I needed to accept my new reality—fast. The only alternative was to be paralyzed by the fear of having cancer—all the “what ifs” that go into your head.

Accepting my new reality was an enormous part of my healing journey; as soon as I accepted it, I felt empowered to act and do something about my new normal.

So I guess we are living through this exact same thing right now, aren’t we? 

Do you accept your new reality? Are you putting a new plan in place for what is happening? Or are you stuck, thinking about the “what ifs” and “why me” and “why nows?” Are you focusing on what you can’t control?

For me, the quicker I accepted my new reality, my new normal—the diagnosis, feeling unwell 24/7, having to give up work (I kept sending emails to my boss for a good couple of months after my diagnosis), feeling weak, vulnerability, the entire fact that I couldn’t be or do what I used to before cancer—the more at peace I felt with my new reality. It was a new life, a new body—new “me,” really.

Instead of fighting what is happening outside of us and everything that we can’t control, I invite you to accept things as they are. Work toward a plan that can help you deal with whatever situation you are in, help your family, loved ones around you to accept this new challenge with you.

As soon as you accept what is going on, you will feel life will become easier. The plans that you will be working toward won’t be as challenging; you will be able to come up with different solutions, and before you know it, your new normal is what you will know.

We human beings are incredibly adaptable, and we can adapt to any situation if we set our minds to it.

May this unknown time make us grow and learn whatever lessons we need to learn. May this unknown time make us be more compassionate to ourselves and others because…we are all in this together.


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