In part one of this series, I talked about how fear plays a role in our experience after a cancer diagnosis and how our western medical system, though full of compassionate and caring doctors, often ends up disempowering us and increasing our feelings of fear as a result. To combat this, the best choice you can make is to go through your cancer experience as an active patient versus a passive one, becoming a member of your own healing team, as I like to say. And this led me to a very valuable lesson that cancer taught me: the more you do in life, the more you go through and overcome, the less you fear.
You fear less for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that you have evidence for your ability to deal with what life throws at you. This evidence builds more confidence in yourself, your strengths, and your skills. We 100% NEED our own unique gifts and talents and strengths to get through the toughest storms, like cancer. Because we need them, we use them, and because we use them, we develop them, making them and ourselves even better, even stronger. Our true capabilities are demonstrated in those darkest of moments, and then we come out on the other side naturally more able to deal with whatever comes at us next because we have developed the skills we will need. And so we fear each next unknown a little less than the one before, because we have more confidence that we can deal with it, whatever it is. For me, this has been one of the most beautiful gifts of cancer, the push to grow and the perspective to make use of that growth moving forward.
It can be scary af to trust ourselves and run in the opposite direction of where the fear is telling us we need to go. It’s why so many people stay in circumstances where they are less than happy; they are at least safe there, and who the hell knows what could be out there? But because it’s unknown, it means it is just as equally likely to be something amazing and beautiful and purposeful as something that we fear.
And that I think is another effect of fearing less. The more we become active agents in our lives and our healing, the more we realize that many of those fears are unfounded. Yes, the fear of cancer and pain and death is very real and very reasonable, but that feeling of it being a death sentence diminishes the more we learn about why cancer developed for us as a unique individual and then actively work to reverse those root causes. It’s just about the most empowering feeling I have ever experienced, to feel like I actually have control over my health and control over cancer. It’s pretty amazing and beautiful.
And what about the purpose piece? Well, those huge and terrifying obstacles in our lives, whether cancer or something else, they are often what reveals our purpose to us. And if we have been reducing our fear as a natural side effect of being active in our healing or the overcoming of those challenges, we will have developed the confidence and the skills we need to take that leap and fulfill that purpose. Without cancer, I would still be living a life with far more insecurity, far less understanding of myself, and completely unaware of my purpose, let alone working towards fulfilling it. Sometimes, what we couldn’t want less ends up being what we needed most. As Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.”
So, if you are struggling right now under the monstrous weight of fear over your diagnosis, start taking some of your power back. Seek to understand your diagnosis, the recurrence rates with and without treatment, and whether that treatment is palliative or curative. Ask questions unabashedly, and then ask more. It is genuinely your right to understand your own body and what’s going on with it. And then look for other ways to support yourself and your health. Find a naturopath or integrative doctor, start looking at your internal terrain with testing to discover where things are going wrong and how that could have led to cancer, and build an integrative protocol with your healthcare team instead of having it done without you.
And always know that we are a culmination of our experiences. You will be changed by this experience, no doubt; but, especially if you take an active role in it, I think you will find that there are at least a few changes that you are happy for, and fearing less is likely to be one of them.