One of the problems with our current, new age influenced culture is the idea that we create everything that happens to us. If we believe that, we can un-create it, or so the wisdom goes.
Even if you don’t necessarily believe that, a lot of folks do, and it can make it hard to be gentle on yourself.
I have always been health conscious, although I have not always done what I know to be best for myself. I certainly pointed a finger at myself at first when I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Inflammatory Breast Cancer. If only I had been more consistent with exercise. If only I had eaten more vegetables, if only I had left a stressful marriage years before, if only……
I got over that and got committed to surviving. I had some strong beliefs about what would work, and fortunately for me I survived. Did I survive because of the acupuncture, the massage, the therapy, the healing touch, my health shakes, my self inquiry? Or did I survive because my oncologist knew what sort of cell type I had and that she expected the cancer to respond to the big guns she fired at it? Was my fantastic response to chemotherapy a result of my holistic East/West approach, was it luck, or the wonderful, compassionate and thorough team of doctors who treated me? In any case I was blessed. If I had a setback whose fault would it be?
Nobody’s! I repeat, nobody’s.
I had a friend in my art and imagery support group who had faced an aggressive breast cancer. She believed strongly in the approach she had taken. When her cancer recurred, she was certain that she had failed. It was hard to watch her beat herself up about it, and I was certain that her self flagellation was not helping her body to stay strong.
I believe very strongly that self love helps us to find our resilience. Love strengthens and heals. Whatever beast has intruded on your life, self blame will only give it power. Self blame is a useless, counterproductive activity. Don’t blame yourself for indulging in self blame! Enough already if you are doing that!
Cancer happens. It sucks. Sometimes it happens again. Cancer happening again does not mean the end. I asked my oncologist what would happen if the cancer I beat once were to return. Her response was that we would beat it again. She’s a research specialist among other things, and in the cancer world new stuff is coming to light all the time. It is true that people still die of cancer. That does stink. However, it is also true that more people don’t die of it than do on the whole. Many survivors coexist with their cancer until they die of something else. In the cancer world, death by old age means I win.
Setbacks can be anything. They can be chemo effects that don’t go away as fast as you want them to. A minor or major recurrence can be a setback. I viewed my lymphedema, which surfaced nearly two years out, as a setback. At first I was annoyed at myself for not being more careful. I got over that. It was just a setback, and now my lymphedema is very well controlled. Hey, I’m still here!
If you are reading this today, you are too, and that’s what matters.