“Cancer is so limited…It cannot cripple love. It cannot shatter hope. It cannot corrode faith. It cannot eat away peace. It cannot destroy confidence. It cannot kill friendship. It cannot shut out memories. It cannot silence courage. It cannot reduce eternal life. It cannot quench the Spirit.” ~Unknown
It’s not everyday that you see big, strong, muscly men running around in pink accessories. For the next month though, you will. Each year, NFL players show their solidarity and support for the fight against breast cancer, because let’s face it, everyone knows of someone who’s faced this horrible disease. In fact, one in four Americans are diagnosed with cancer.
Few things can really turn your world upside down like a cancer diagnosis. It scary, it’s confusing, it’s a battle, and it’s a game-changer. Year after year we see examples of people who are strong, courageous, and fearless. These people may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have them.
How can we empower ourselves in times of deep physical, mental, and emotional strife? Our brains are so powerful, more than we even really realize. How we think and therefore how we act has such an effect on our morale and ultimately our health. A way of dealing and healing is to not let a diagnosis, cancer or otherwise, define who you are. Just because you are ailing physically, does not take away your character, your spirit, or your true Self. If we constantly base our lives on the outside world, we will continue to be rocked in turmoil, because as we have learned oh so many times, change is constant. We cannot rely on the outside world for security and sanity. Being guarded in yourself, despite anything that comes across your path, will surely make you stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually.
I recently heard a story about a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She was a middle-aged, married, successful, powerful woman, with a family and an active social life. After learning of her diagnosis, she chose not to tell many people, including her children. Why? She didn’t want people treating her differently, feeling sorry for her, thinking she wasn’t strong enough to handle day-to-day situations. She was strong and she wanted to keep living her life. This woman went through her treatment and is currently cancer free. Cancer did not become an adjective she used to define herself. She now speaks out about how she dealt with her disease, in hopes of encouraging others. Yes, it’s scary, but a cancer label can never take away the teacher, spouse, mother, daughter, son, artist, architect, blogger, athlete, fill in the blank that you define yourself with.
Her message? You can be inspired and empowered and courageous, but at the end of the day you are still you, cancer or not, and it is important to stay true to yourself. Do not let a diagnosis become your sole definer, but instead an avenue to add new powerful adjectives to your persona: fighter, motivator, survivor.