I didn't fight cancer; I learnt to let go
Updated: Sep 7, 2018
Although going through cancer does feel like a battle at times, it's time for a fresh take on what "battling cancer" truly means.
Cancer isn’t a fight: it's a journey
Today, my teeth still grind when I hear a journalist says: “this woman loss her battle against cancer". To me, this statement doesn't only lack compassion, it's ludicrous: you can't fight against your own body. Cancer isn't an invader: it's our own cells misbehaving – a reminder to self-love and self-care.
Although going through cancer does feel like a battle at times, it’s also a journey where we learn (at least) one valuable lesson: to listen to our body.
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. - Buddha
Having cancer is not a fight or a battle is a confronting article on how military language - although meant to cheer us up through cancer - can have the opposite effect. The author describes:
"She lost her brave fight." If anyone mutters those words after my death, wherever I am, I will curse them. I would like to be remembered for the positive impact I have made on the world, for fun times and for my relationships with others, not as a loser.
Dang, that's a good point! But, what's the alternative?
Learning to let go
I was 31 when diagnosed with cervical cancer. At the time, I had hit rock bottom. After my marriage broke down, I embarked on my Eat Pray Love Tour (more on this later), which marked the end of my golden twenties. I had it all: husband, two dogs, two houses, a brand new MBA, and a corporate job.
On my return to Australia, I moved to Sydney, Australia to start over. That’s where I hit a low point. Lost in a foreign city, I had no family, no friend, no lover, no home, no money and no job.
Life as I knew it had vanished. For a little while there I felt sorry for myself – at least until I found my dream job. That’s when cancer knocked at the front door.
Although I did my regular Pap tests, I became somewhat blasé with abnormal results and “too busy” to follow-up. Today, I have no cervix. I consider myself lucky.
But, my story didn’t end there...
I’m a firm believer that a way to tackle illness is to restore balance in the body – through the mind-body connection.
Cancer reminded me to heal my broken heart, to reconnect with me. Tony Robbins said:
Focus on what you want, you’ll get more of that, focus on what you fear you will get more of that.
Through my recovery of cancer, my focus wasn't on "fighting cancer" but rather letting go of my fears and expectations of life as it once was. To rediscover love (starting with the love for myself) is what healed me. Everything else was a bonus.
Claim your experience
Each person is unique so will their experience with cancer be. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be feeling a little lost, confused or overwhelmed.
Start with what you can control. Don't get lost in what-if scenarios - focus on the here and now.
The first thing you can do is write down a list of questions to ask your doctor about your cancer and bring them with you to your appointment. To get your started, I will soon be launching a free health warrior checklist with key questions and tips for your doctor appointments. It's going to be a free download, so keep your eyes peeled!
In the meantime, if you love TedTalk, have a listen to Debra Jarvis - yes I survived cancer but that doesn't define me. It's a refreshing take on the cancer experience and it might inspire you "to rock cancer your way"!
Remember health is a journey not a destination!