Today’s post is very special. It was written by a friend who has been on a challenging journey to defeat cancer. I was so moved by the profound truths in what he shared, I am sharing this with you, with his permission. Grab a cup of tea and prepare to be blessed! Thank you David – for sharing your heart and your journey with such honesty and authenticity.
Week 24 – Five Things I’m Learning on my Cancer Journey
I’ve been in the hospital for 13 days. If all goes well, I should be getting out this Thursday. This type of a journey lends itself to contemplation.
Here are a few things I am learning:
- Faith is foundational
When you face a diagnosis of an incurable cancer, faith quickly becomes real or phony. Is my faith based upon religion (mankind’s attempt to connect with God) or is my faith based upon a relationship (God’s initiating connection with mankind)? For me, I have basked in the latter. From literally the moment of diagnosis, God’s grace was real to me as He assured me (He didn’t speak in an audible voice, but inside the deep places of my heart I heard a peaceful assurance) that He has this!
- Relationships are the best investments
I have a posse of support surrounding me. That didn’t happen by accident. When you encounter life challenges of this magnitude, you find out how rich or poor you are relationally. I am quite rich! I’ve had 100s of calls, texts, cards, visits, etc., from people who I know (plus many more from people I don’t know), people who are genuinely concerned about my well-being. One of the high values I’ve had my entire life is to invest time, energy, activity and heart in people. Relationships are messy by nature and not all of them result in positive outcomes, but my life-long investment in people has paid off in enormous dividends. People have been, and continue to be, “there for me” in my time of need. It is both humbling and exhilarating. No one wants to walk through a challenge of this magnitude without support. My support bank account is large and when this unexpected need to cash-in presented itself, my investment has paid off!
- Work is not a dirty four-letter word
I love to work, to be productive! Even with this disease and the treatment that has been necessary, I’ve been able to be productive. I’ve discovered that, even when I’m not at my best, I can continue to provide value. I’ve just had to adjust, adapt and do it differently than I have before. Throughout my career I have constantly re-invented myself. This new iteration of my ability to provide value has caused me to be quite creative at times. I’m learning through this how to keep moving forward even if you only have one hour of energy on a given day.
- Limitations are real
Even Superman was affected by kryptonite! I don’t like this. I can’t change this. I have to accept this. My entire working career has been about helping people overcome limitations that keep them from maximizing their potential. Whether it’s a large corporation, an entrepreneurial endeavor, one-on-one coaching or just working on myself, I have a great internal disdain for situations where limitations – mostly placed on ourselves – rule the outcome. But this disease has forced me to accept limitations. Through this treatment season, my body will not function in the same way it has in the past. So while keeping my spirit strong, I’ve had to yield, at times, to the needs of my body. The greatest lesson is to constantly discern which limitations are real and which limitations are lies perpetrated by our own negative internal dialogue or from outside negative influences.
- Simplicity is refreshing in a complex world
I’m fully aware that most of us struggle deeply with not appreciating things until we don’t have them. Cognitively, I know this to be an axiom of veracity. This disease has slapped me in the face with reality and given me an opportunity to be reflective on the things that REALLY matter. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness, stress and pressures we impose on ourselves and miss the invigorating, energizing, revitalizing things all around us – the joy of a sunrise; the cuddle of a child; the sounds of a songbird; the smell of a blooming flower; the touch of someone special. It’s also easy to forget to make the continual investment in relationships that matter. I’m convinced that as we become great communicators of these five phrases, life will become richer:
• Thank you
• I was wrong
• I am sorry
• I love you
About this last one… say these three words often!