My life was turned upside down by cancer. Upside down and inside out! But in the process of all the tests, treatments and terror, my thoughts and understanding of this disease ended up turning my ideas about cancer completely upside down. Instead of the dreaded death sentence that I had always thought it was, as I learned more about cancer it became like a coach in my life, challenging me to grow and reach further. Cancer promoted me to the first priority in my life. It gave me permission to take care of myself and to feel entitled to do so. Cancer forced me to get educated about myself, my body and our planet in ways that I never would have if it hadn't been constantly pushing me along. Cancer provided the motivation to radically shift my life so that I could begin to thrive. I am deeply grateful for my experience with cancer, the whole thing, chemo and the lot. Cancer turned my life from black and white into high definition colour.
I am almost excited when I hear of another person being diagnosed with cancer. Not because I wish any ill on any of these wonderful people, nor the stress and worry that comes with such a frightening diagnosis, but rather I wish for them the unfolding of a journey that has the potential to transform their life beyond their greatest imaginings....if they are willing to accept it's call.
It is the call to wake up and shake up! It is a call to reassess everything from top to bottom and leave no stone left unturned. You have to get brutally real and courageously honest about your life and how you are living. No more excuses about this or that. Cancer makes it your time now! Suddenly there is a palpable immediacy about life. You know now it is not owned by you, but rather you are a visitor and your visit will come to an end. You may have a real physical awareness of this. Cancer demands you to let go. Let go of thoughts that don't serve, ideas that don't heal, foods that harm, habits that keep us stuck, relationships that are toxic and anything that impedes living and thriving. Cancer rattles you down to the bones until you only hold that which has meaning to you, the rest is gone. It clears out the clutter and life is lighter.
Cancer is also one of those challenging things that does have to be kept in check. If it frightens you constantly that it will never go away or that it might come back; if there is constant fear of another tumor or if it is spreading and all the horrible fears about the disease; then it steals our connection to life right now. We get lost in a fictional future. The moment of vitality that we dwell in right now is stolen. We become absorbed by fear. Preoccupied with what might be. Cancer then is like a thief. This seems to be a common experience amongst those of us who have a serious health diagnosis. If we ignore this fear and stuff it deep down inside and hope that chemo did its job and quickly get things back to "normal" then we lose the chance to blossom. We lose the chance to break out and break free into a more intimate experience of life. We return to the same climate and tone we were living before, the life that grew the cancer. When fear and denial are kept in check, cancer can work wonders in our lives. We don't want to be either held hostage by cancer so we cannot experience life, nor do we want to be in a terrified denial so we miss the motivation for great change. When kept in check, cancer keeps us astute to our life so we stay awake for it, revel in the beauty of it, recognize the preciousness of it and feel the outrageous exhilaration of being alive. So why not turn cancer upside down?