Cancer is an insidious illness that touches way too many people. When faced with this disease, you basically have two choices: to go through the experience kicking and screaming or to learn and grow through the illness.
Cancer has taught me that I need to establish boundaries in my life. I learned to look out for my needs first, because without a healthy and strong mind and body, I cannot be at my best for anyone else.
Cancer has taught me that we should never take good health for granted. I used to be like so many other people when I said, “All I want is a healthy baby” or “Life is nothing without your health.” Of course, I meant it. But, I really didn’t understand the magnitude of these statements until my own struggles with cancer.
I’m a huge believer that the best physicians have a fine tuned sense of intuition. There are times when they just know they have to walk away from the data and follow their gut. But, even intuition has its basis in fact. If we, as patients, don’t take the time to tell our physician all the symptoms we are experiencing, he or she doesn’t have all the information they need to make a proper diagnosis.
I’ve learned that the human spirit is virulent. I am thrilled to see that many of our nation’s medical schools are now acknowledging the human spirit within their classrooms. They have learned that strong support systems, a good attitude, and prayer affect the overall survival of their patients. They are acknowledging that it is not just science, but also the human spirit, that can affect a patient’s future.
For years, alternative medicine – massage therapy, proper nutrition, chiropractic medicine – were not viewed as part of mainstream medicine. But, today, more and more physicians are beginning to understand their power. As such, students in medical schools across the country are learning about alternative medicine within their course curriculum. Oncologists will now put you in touch with nutritionists or send you to chiropractors to help ease your pain.
I’m amazed at how much more accommodating I am of grumpy people these days. Mainly, this is driven by the realization that I don’t know what’s going on in their personal lives. They might be waging their own battle against cancer. They may be struggling with a divorce, death, or a job loss. Having cancer has taught me to be more tolerant of people and to accept that they may be carrying a load of troubles on their back that we are unaware of.
Out of all of the lessons that cancer has taught me, the bottom line is this: we can all make our world a better place to live if we just lend a hand to others in need.