Magazine article Insight on the News

Seeing a Bigger Picture through a Prism of Cancer

Magazine article Insight on the News

Seeing a Bigger Picture through a Prism of Cancer

Article excerpt

As the year draws to a close, it's time to take stock as well as look forward. It's useful to look back and assess events and goals planned, made or failed, as the case may be, then use the product of this process in setting objectives for the year to come.

Many of my goals were met this year. Some still are in flux but evolving; others became sidetracked by events. The major event of the year for me was cancer, a life-altering, if not mind-altering, experience.

Those first words over the telephone from the doctor caused time to stand still: "It's not good." The initial reaction was a chilling numbness, followed by confusion, then fear.

Fear is such a waste of emotional energy. Although it's natural enough, it's not very productive. Sure, it can motivate, but it does that negatively, so it's best to shed fear as soon as possible. Easier said than done, but fear does pass.

An hour after that dolorous phone call, my husband and I sat at the dining-room table to make our plans. Our first agreement was that we would keep life as normal as possible. The second was that we would eliminate the extraneous and unnecessary -- whether it was thoughts, activities or people. We simply had enough to occupy us without saddling ourselves with Junk.

Immediately, I found great comfort in routine. It was a pleasure to go to work every day. I enjoyed the calming monotony of unloading the dishwasher or folding laundry. Even cleaning the cat's litter box became a pleasant task because it was homey, familiar, routine.

The learning curve associated with cancer was, in my case, blessedly rapid. I already was in an excellent medical environment with superb physicians and other professionals. Their facilities are among the best in the country. In very rapid succession we scheduled and followed through on surgery and radiation therapy. There were no glitches, even in the sea of administrative details associated with medical insurance.

We quickly had good news: a clean pathology report. In the space of an afternoon, we spread the good news around the country, advising everyone who had surrounded us in a broad, strong circle of love. …

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