Choosing Courage While Fighting Back Against Cancer

Choosing Courage While Fighting Back Against Cancer

This past week has felt like a dream. Like a stretched-out, elongated dream from which I’m waiting to wake up. I feel as if an entire lifetime has passed by in just seven days.

Have you ever had that feeling of being on the outside looking in? You want to laugh at your friends’ jokes or take in what your lecturer is saying, but all you can do is watch the world pass by, feeling isolated and separate from it all.

I suppose that’s a normal response to the phone call I received last Thursday. This call that I’d been dreading was the kind that makes my knees weak, my head spin, and my world collapse in on itself.

“The cancer has probably come back.”

It’s strange how everything can change in an instant. How one’s world can suddenly disintegrate and turn upside down while everyone else carries on. Commuters continue commuting, trains go on running, planes keep crawling across the sky. And you’re left standing on the platform watching as the train departs. Because you don’t know which way to go.

This past week I’ve ached for normalcy. I’ve dreamed, desperately, of being a normal person living a routine existence: shopping for groceries, eating breakfast, going to work. Anything but this.

How ironic it seems to me now that we spend so much of our youth trying to be different, striving to be special. We seek recognition and fame, wanting to stand out. Until that “difference” comes in the form of a serious illness. Then, how quickly one longs to be “normal.”

I’ve felt, ever since I was a kid, that I was destined to do something important. As a little girl, that meant being in the limelight. I thought I would be a pop star or a famous actress. As I grew up my dreams shifted. I wanted to be a writer, to write words that would make people feel something. I’d write pieces that made them feel less alone in the world, just like the books I read made me feel less alone.

I never imagined I’d have to go through so much personal suffering to help others. They say great art comes from suffering, from pain, from doing the work.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” –Viktor Frankl.

Every artist I’ve loved or admired, whose work has stirred something inside me, whose words have made me cry or ache, all of them suffered. Frida Kahlo, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, Georgia O’Keeffe, Anne Sexton, Elie Wiesel, George Orwell, and Vincent van Gogh walked the paths of hardship, heartbreak, illness, anguish, and sorrow. Some were strong enough to make it through. Others were not. But they all shared this common thread: They all suffered, and they all expressed this suffering through their art.

So, suffer I must. Am I willing to accept this? I’ve done it before. But I can’t help wishing that my struggle be a little less painful. Or be anything other than cancer.

However, I know life doesn’t care about what we want. The universe isn’t bothered about our plans or wishes for the future. We can’t choose what happens to us. We can’t decide how things will pan out. We can only surrender.

As I wait for my biopsy results over the next 10 days, I will work on surrendering. I don’t know what will happen. All I know is that I will be vocal about my pain. I will be courageous in my fight. I will not hide this time. I will not be scared of this disease. I will stand up, and I will beat it because I am greater than it. I was put here to overcome it.

To anyone fighting the fight right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. Even when we are angry and tired and resentful of life for giving us these burdens to bear, we must choose courage.


Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.

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  1. Tova says:

    Dear dear Michelle – and you too – are not alone!!!! Praying you will receive the best news ever… know i am so moved, inspired and grateful for your words – you are an awesome person and a very talented writer. You are not alone!!! <>

  2. Kevin Williams says:

    My wife is a pancreatic cancer survivor. She is the most courageous and positive person that I know. Her cancer battle made her stronger and augmented her qualities and characteristics. Her empathy for others improved. You are never alone. May God bless you with hope and strength to conquer any battle you face.

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