I struggle with the idea of cancer as a gift. It is not something that I would wish on anyone. But it has changed me. It as also given me so many new opportunities, that I cannot dismiss the positive things that I have happened.
In a session this morning (I’m at Commonweal in their Cancer Help Program), the idea of “strange grace” was presented. Rather than a gift, cancer allows us a strange grace. It gives us an opportunity to think about our death. To plan. To tell the people we love that we love them. To do the pressing things we feel we need to do. Sometimes even to say goodbye. It is not a gift, but it is a strange grace.
My husband said the other day “the best friends she wishes she never met” – and it is so true. Another strange grace that cancer has given me is a closeness with so many amazing people. I have so many new wonderful friends that I would never have met if I didn’t have cancer. In addition, cancer has also brought me a lot closer to a lot of friends and colleagues – in very unexpected ways.
It has also given me something meaningful to write about. I has given me many stories and allowed me to write many things that I know have helped people – that is so very rewarding.
I have climbed back from treatment, and injury, to be stronger in many ways that I was before. I have demonstrated to myself that I can physically recover from the various insults. My oncologist described chemo and surgery like getting hit by a truck, twice. A double-wammy. I climbed out of that. I walked 32.5 miles in two days. That is not something that I thought I could ever do, and yet I did it.
Goingeast.ca taught me that I have strong tenacity. If I put my mind to something I can power through it. One pedal stroke at a time. I’m good at that. Cancer has taught me that I’m also resilient. I can rebuild after being knocked down. That isn’t a characteristic that I associated with myself before.
This week I’m at Commonweal for their Cancer Care Program – a week long retreat that focuses on healing the spirit – whatever that means to you. The space is very healing itself. Upon arrival I was struck by the beauty of it, but also with the energy of it. There is healing energy here. My body is feeling stronger, but also my mind. It is helping me understand and truly grieve for the losses that cancer has taken from me, to forgive myself, to forgive my body, which is helping me move forward. It is helping me see the narrative in my life – see the story more clearly. It is a special place that people come to from all over the world, and I’m so lucky that it is less than a two hour drive from our home. This place is a gift. Being here is a gift to my soul.