Rectal cancer isn’t sexy and doesn’t come with a pretty pink bow. In fact, it’s a pain in the a$$, literally, but despite everything; the chemo, radiation, ostomy bag, nausea (I don’t need to go on, you get the picture) my life is better today thanks to what the Big C taught me.
You may be sitting there thinking, It’s okay for you, you’re done with your cancer, but I’m still battling mine (or whatever “cancer” is eating away at your life) but at the very moment it threatened to take my life, it saved me, giving me more life than I could have lived without it.
And here’s the thing, we all have our own cancer. You may not have a tumor the size of a double stuffed Oreo up where the sun doesn’t shine, but no one gets to skip the tough stuff in life. Maybe you’re battling the fallout from your spouse’s affair, the diagnosis of your middle schooler with ADHD, your miscarriage, or financial problems. We all have something. Adulting is hard and far too often, painful.
Rectal cancer taught me
I’m Not Alone – and neither are you.
Right from the get-go, I was a Cope Alone Ranger. I knew, in theory, I wasn’t the only person in the world to have cancer in an unmentionable orifice, but by the sheer fact it was unmentionable, I shied away, determined to cope alone. Hardy by name, Hardy by nature – that’s me. I’d got this. Unsurprisingly that tactic left me feeling more and more alone.
Eventually, I found PLM’s – People Like Me. Women and men of all ages and stages with tumors just like mine. They became my friends, my go-to community for help, advice, and encouragement. They were happy to just listen. Yes, I had friends and family loving me well, but these peeps understood me in a way even Al, couldn’t.
Whatever we’re dealing with, however lonely we feel, we’re not alone.
Whatever we're dealing with, however lonely we feel, we're not alone. Click To Tweet
Finding our tribe, our team, our go-to folks, helps us feel seen and understood, not so crazy or forgotten. Today I have mum friends with teenagers and who understand when I say I’m the worst parent of teenagers that ever walked the planet. I have writer friends who get what it’s like to fight the fear of putting your words into the world, and I still have my cancer community who inspire me to live life to the full.
You are not alone. Reach out and find your people – they are out there waiting for you.
Live Life Today, Not Waiting for Easier Tomorrows
When life’s kicked you in the teeth or even when it’s just plain messy and hard, it’s so much easier to roll over, hit snooze and tell yourself tomorrow will be easier and that’s when you’ll feel up to grabbing life by the short and curlies.
Unfortunately, that’s nonsense.
Tomorrow might be easier for sure. Your financial problems might be less of a weight, you may find the perfect way to calm your screaming toddler, or you could discover you’re pregnant after trying for two years. But here’s the thing. Jesus came for you to live life to the full today. TODAY. God’s name is I am, not I will be, and all too often the tomorrow we’re waiting for doesn’t even exist. It’s a smoke and mirrors ideal created from glossy images online.
I spent far too long thinking when I’m through with chemo I’ll … or if I can just get the all clear I’ll allow myself to …
I’m not telling you to ignore your problems or fake it ’til you make it. I’m not asking you to set up camp in the pseudo-safety of denial. I’m encouraging you, however tough, painful or bleak life seems, to not wait to live it.
What one thing can you do today to live a little more fully? Grab ice cream with your kids? Treat yourself to a bubble bath and a glass of wine? Go to see a pee-your-pants-hilarious comedy with girlfriends? Give yourself permission to laugh if all you want to do is cry?
Gratitude has Magical, Mystical Powers
Okay, so maybe they’re not magical or all that mystical – there’s a heap of scientific evidence out there proving the power of gratitude – but practicing gratitude increases our well being; brings joy, reduces stress, builds hope and a whole heap of other benefits.
In the depths of rectal cancer, terrified I’d be sipping tea with my mum and sister in heaven’s tea shop all too soon, I often struggled to find things to be grateful for. I had cancer, up my bum – what was there to write home about?
And yet the times we feel we have nothing to be grateful for are the very times we must look around and give thanks. I started my gratitude list with not dying. A bit dramatic I know, but I was grateful to still be breathing. Then, as I looked more carefully at my life I saw so many things that were good and true; the way my kids hugged me a bit tighter each night, the way Al brought me tea and looked after the kids on top of everything else, the new coat of paint freshening up our living room, my sanity (debatable I know), my brilliant oncologist and her wild sense of humor, my friends who rallied and whisked the kids to their activities and baked delicious dinners, and the faithfulness of my God.The times we feel we have nothing to be grateful for are the very times we must look around and give thanks. I started my gratitude list with not dying. A bit dramatic I know, but I was grateful to still be breathing. Then, as I looked… Click To Tweet
As I focused on what I was grateful for it lessened the pain of what I was dealing with. Rectal cancer was still there, it was just our shone by the good stuff I chose to focus on. There is always something we can give thanks for.
Today, as I write this I’m grateful for my cancer as it taught me this and so much more. It brought me to you, or you to me, and for that I’m grateful as well.
So, whatever cancer you’re battling today, remember you’re not alone, life is for living today as our tomorrows are rarely as glossy as we imagine them to be, and living gratefully for the rubies in our rubble has the power to increase our well being.
Jesus came that you might have life, and not just life but life in abundance. Let’s grab it today.
Whatever “cancer” you’re battling today I’m so sorry.
Grab my FREE Audio Download How to Handle Anything Life Throws at You to discover the three strategies to give you the self confidence and trust to thrive, not just survive, right where you are.