When I got sick the first time, I was a very healthy individual. I exercised, I meditated, I ate organic foods and was partly vegetarian. I was a good person, so it wasn’t like I had a lot of fear or anger inside of myself – I truly felt like every part of my life was going great. I had a great business that I’d started, and I had fallen in love and had a beautiful family. Everything felt like it was just perfect.
My life was wonderful, and gratefully, I knew it.
So when I found myself on a Friday afternoon in the year 2000 sitting in front of the surgeon who was telling me that I had the second most aggressive cancer, and that he needed to operate THAT EVENING, I was speechless. For many of you that have gone through traumatic illness, there are a lot of emotions that come in, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of control over them. They just come at you like a sledgehammer. Whether it’s betrayal, or anger, or frustration, or sorrow – whatever it is, at least initially, you are in a position to question everything.
I knew people who were heavy smokers and drinkers, who ate fast-food and were significantly overweight, who did not live half the healthy life that I did – and as far as anyone could tell, they didn’t have cancer. It was a tough place for me to be, and partially why I felt so alone. I looked around at other people who weren’t making healthy choices, yet they weren’t facing the same obstacles I was. In reality, it is the same core sensation as losing a job, or having a house foreclosed on, or losing somebody you care about. No matter what, it’s what happening to us, individually, inside of ourselves.
Nobody can 100% understand what we’re going through. Nobody else can fully comprehend, because they haven’t had your experiences. They can have empathy – they can say, ‘Gosh, I understand what you’re going through,’ or ‘Oh, I went through that before,’ but they haven’t had your history, they didn’t have your childhood, they didn’t have your relationships, they didn’t have your education and your life challenges. At the place you’re in, in many ways you are all alone except for the context that what you are experiencing is shared by all of us, because it is part of this physical experience.
We can start by accepting that these obstacles we face are a natural part of life. If you’re not facing something huge right now, at some point you will, but its not because you did anything wrong – it is the natural course of this physical existence. But it doesn’t have to be debilitating, it doesn’t have to cripple you. In fact, in many ways, it can empower you.
Cancer was one of the greatest blessings that I ever received. If I thought I was happy before cancer, it’s nothing compared to how happy I am now.
Believe me, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. That doesn’t change the fact that some days I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or that I would get up in the morning and not know what my day would be like. I had days when I didn’t know if I would live or die. It doesn’t mean that it was easy, but through those challenges I became a better person. I resonated closer with my truth. I made choices that were consistent with who I wanted to be in my life, with how I wanted to live, with why I am here on this planet.
We are EACH here for a very unique reason. There’s a purpose for each of us, and our job is to discover it and to LIVE it in every waking moment. That is our journey and we cannot expect anyone in life to do our work for us – not a therapist, not our spouse, not our parents or our children. Nobody can do the work that we came here to do. We are here to do it on our own, and sometimes it’s not easy. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, but the light within, and at the end of the tunnel, is always worth it. There is amazing beauty that comes from a consciously lived life, from a life of conscious choice, in actually deciding how we want to live our life.