Y’all, I have been invited to write a couple of guest posts for Harvard Health Blog and the first one is up today. Please read and better yet, leave a comment! xoxo
When it comes to life, I am not adverse to dreaming on a large scale (go big or go home). And yet I remain ineffably grounded in reality. Words such as scaleable and practical come to mind. And, my all time favorite, doable.
I like doable because it is a word that neither dashes hope nor over-promises. Doable simply says, this thing could be done. Put another way, it is possible. And that leaves a lot of latitude.
When I first learned I had cancer and specifically, lung cancer–I knew I was heading into some stiff winds. However the little voice in my head said, ‘This is going to be hard but I can do this.’
That can-do attitude has served me extraordinarily well, and the word can’t has been pretty much excised from my vocabulary.
The truth is, some words just aren’t particularly useful. Take cure; that word is absolute bullshit. First of all, the meaning is nebulous: ‘relieve (a person or animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition’. Secondly, the impact of a word like cure is potentially nefarious.
Everyone with cancer wants to be cured. Far too many of us have been told we never will be, that our cancer is ‘incurable’. The distinction/distance between these two supposed states–cured and incurable–is one of immense emotional devastation.
It you are incurable, than what can you possibly hope for?
Well, how about being healed. Whereas cure may be a technical impossibility, (and do remember, these are words, all words, not necessarily realities), healing is actually incredibly doable. The definition of healing is ‘to become sound or healthy again’.
So do it. Reframe the way you regard yourself. Discard that which is unhelpful and even hurtful. Embrace where you are at at right now. Heal yourself.
Approximately eighteen months ago an old friend said the most astounding thing to me. “I believe you’re healing.”
I had no idea what to make of these words and my first impulse was that this friend had truly misunderstood the gravity of my situation. “It’s stage IV, terminal cancer” I reminded him.
But then I started to turn those words around in my head. The idea of healing was so very compelling and yet seemingly beyond the realm of possibility. And to be clear, it was not a spiritual healing I was imagining, but rather corporal—that this diseased body of mine should become whole again.
Once I started thinking about it I couldn’t let it go. I was tired of being terminal. Thinking about dying all the time is a hell of a way to live, and I had already spent far too much of my life doing just that.
Finally, in an ultimate moment of WTF, I decided that I would embrace the idea of healing. That I would take that final leap of faith and simply resolve myself healthy.
I mean, what did I have to lose? Believing I was healed, even if it wasn’t quite true, could only make my life better.
And so it has. Of course, that resolve was tested with my last scan but damned if it didn’t turn out A-ok. I had a little chat with Dr. Shaw and told her that some days I felt as if I was cured. Rather than discouraging me she simply said ‘Good.’
The truth is, nobody really knows. Certainly my lungs aren’t clear, but then again, with all they’ve been through, it could be scar tissue that we are seeing on the scans. In the meantime, I feel fabulous. And, frankly, healed. A feeling I am determined to hang onto for as long as possible.