Denying The Reality of Blood-Cancer

A built-in and unconscious defense mechanism by which we refuse to recognize cold hard facts or experiences in our lives is called  Denial.  

Denial after cancer diagnosis

For better or worse, that built-in survival tool serves a useful purpose. It allows us to protect ourselves at least temporarily from some type of discomfort while allowing us to push aside emotions until we are ready to face reality.

One day, I was just another “normal person” like so many others, but in the seconds that followed my diagnosis of blood cancer, I experienced a total disconnect and no sense of self. I faced a diagnosis that brought me to my knees. As the days and weeks passed, my denial slowly morphed into depression as I asked, “Why me, why now, and was I the cause of my blood disease?"

Wanting to bring peace back in my life

The medical team and just about everyone else in my life encouraged me to stay positive. Apparently, doing so somehow would or could help in some unexplained way. While outwardly nodding in agreement with the well-intentioned advice, deep down, I believed embracing a rigid denial that blood cancer was a new uninvited guest in my life to me was an exercise in futility.

At the same time, I was not about to cave in or and abandon who I was. Rather there was desire to find a way to reframe the situation I was facing and somehow bring a sense of peace back into my life.

Stress is present every day

After taking some time to breathe, one of those cold facts I mentioned earlier came into sharp focus. No matter who or where we are on this planet our lives are filled with some kind of stress daily.

It may be something as simple as being a few minutes late for an appointment to being victimized by an unexpected newsfeed or any of the myriad of other stress triggers that suddenly pop up in our lives. In reality, the only way we can find true peace on earth is after we take our last breath. "Rest in peace" was not what I envisioned as an appealing solution.

Writing for myself to define my feelings

Having been a writer for many years I turned into that strength but this time it was different. Rather than writing for the benefit of others for a change I began to write like no one was reading what I put down on paper. In short, I began to write for and to myself.

For the first time I began to call things for what they were. I began to use really clear words to describe my feelings. It was that new clarity that allowed me to notice my feelings vs. letting them control my thinking process.

Rather than being controlled by emotions, I started to ask exactly what my emotions were telling me and then what action did I need to take. When my wife died suddenly, I found saying she died was a much better description of what happened vs. saying she passed. She did not simply walk past me in 2022; she died, and that was a cold hard fact. And it was final.

Clarity instead of denial

Clarity helped me come face to face with denial. In time by writing down feelings I was able to view events that happened as an observer vs being personally and emotionally engaged in the events. I found it helpful to journal my observations and review them at the end of a week.

It was amazing how that slight separation of self helped me to see and experience life differently. In time I came to see that the cycle of life is amazing and  at the same time it is  deceivingly quick. On that one day in my life, I was cancer free then at the next moment I was the oldest family member with cancer wondering how I got to where I am.

Today I do my best to live in the moment, enjoy where I am and more importantly to call things exactly what they. Life is too short to live otherwise especially for those who understand the journey that is living with blood-cancer.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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