Thursday, March 11, 2010

Is cancer a gift?

I have not written a blog post in what seems like forever and a day. I think there have been several reasons for this, but I am going to try and post at least once a week from here on.

Lately I have been talking and reading about people’s journey with cancer and other life changing illnesses and events. One theme that has come up over and over is these events in our lives are gifts. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and reading over past journal and blog posts. I think I have even used the gift metaphor myself. I have come up with the following questions and thoughts that I want to share.

Has my cancer been a gift?
My cancer has definitely changed my life in so many ways. I am not the same person I was before my diagnosis and treatment. I think some of the changes are good, but as there often is, some bad has come along as well. I think I took things for granted before I got sick. The biggest was time; I always assumed there would be time for me to accomplish my dreams. I focus more on the “now” and try to make the most out of every day. I also let things go more. Before I used to let the little things get me upset and would sometimes dwell on them. These changes did not happen instantly upon getting sick, but have happened as part of the journey. I also say what I think, this includes the negative thoughts. I sometimes think the world should revolve around me and other people’s needs are not as important as mine.

Are all gifts positive?
Have you ever received a birthday or Christmas gift that you did not like? I have opened gifts and looked at them and thought “What was this person thinking”, “Who can I re-gift this to?” or “How soon can I exchange this?” I have ended keeping some of these gifts and while they might have come in handy (like the carbon dioxide detector from my boyfriend), t hey were not some of my favorites. When I found out I had cancer, I thought immediately that I did not want this. I certainly did not want to give this to someone else, so the re-gift was out, but I did not want this “gift”. I have decided to use my experiences to help others by sharing my story and have often been told I am an inspiration, so I think that I have used this experience for the good, so in the end it might be a gift that I can give to other people, but still would like to not have received it in the first place.

Where is the exchange policy?
If I think of cancer as a gift, I wonder what I would have done if there was an “exchange” policy. Would I have traded in my cancer for a different type of illness? If so, what illness would I like to chosen? Definitely something treatable and not always life threatening. How about irritable bowel, diabetes, chronic allergies or arthritis? I am not trying to say that other illnesses are not bad and do not want to diminish anyone who has them, but if I had to be sick, I would like to be sick with something else. I have had Asthma for over ten years, this has not been in a walk in the park, can be very scary and has landed me in the hospital, but I never questioned my reality or if I would die from it. I broke my tailbone 4 weeks ago and can’t believe how painful this has been and has certainly affected everything in my life, but I would gladly have chosen this over having end stage cancer.

So I ask you these questions and hope that you will comment and share your answers.

If you have cancer or experienced another illness or life changing event, do think it is a gift?
What do you think about gifts being positive or negative?
If you could trade in your cancer or other illness, what other illness would you choose?


Nanette said...

Well I have type 1 diabeties and was diagnosed almost 12 years ago. Definately didn't want it and I wish I could trade it in. I realize there are way too many other things out there that are far more worse then what I have. My own mother was a type 1 diabetic and unfortunately she also surcumbed to having breast cancer twice. Although to this day, I can't be sure what caused her death almost 4 years ago (whether it was a low sugar attack or the cancer caused her to be weak). She had fallen down the basement steps and was in Shock Trauma and died there too.

Adelina and Dori said...

Girl, I'm with you there 100%. Your answers are pretty much equivalent to my own. I wish that I had never gotten cancer, but you know, it would have never opened the doors to my own family's discovery that this is genetic. My family would have gone undiagnosed as would I have. I am glad now that I have it, but I do wish it did not exist within my family. It sucks watching all of them endure the same crap I went through.

You are such a wonderful woman, and so wise. Stay lovely.