A man stands between rain clouds behind him and a sun emerging

Rain, Rain Go Away

“Into every life a little rain must fall.” How many times have we heard that expression? In some ways, it reminds us that life is not all about unicorns and bunnies. We are urged to remember that life can present us with challenging times that must be endured. That is all well and good until the day you are diagnosed with blood cancer. Suddenly my “little rainfall ” was looking more like a hurricane with a few tornadoes thrown in for some additional fun. To say the least, my safe and sound emotional house of cards was blown off its foundation. And there I stood, getting soaked with an ever-increasing downpour of fear and depression.

As with all things – life goes on. Over the next few days, I began to realize there were options – continue to get wet or break out the emotional rain gear. Make no mistake about it, our personal narratives can shape our world and how we see ourselves in it. That is why it is so important to keep our thoughts positive while remembering that life still has a lot to offer.

Learning from our experiences

I am a firm believer that negative things can have a positive impact – if we choose to learn from the experience. When something new disrupts our world, it is tough to see the rainbow, but there are always positive messages hidden deep within those moments when we are forced to change and abandon some, if not all, of our preconceived thoughts.

Over the years there has been a lot of research supporting the fact that when given a chance, most people can experience some type of positive psychological growth after going through a difficult time.

Personally, I found a deep sense of purpose by volunteering to be a thought leader in several cancer support groups, including being a contributor on Blood-Cancer.com and on ProstateCancer.net. Sharing my experiences with two different kinds of cancer appeared to be helping others who were facing a similar diagnosis – perhaps for some, it was the first time. Strangely enough, the experiences allowed me to better deal with a personal diagnosis.

Asking the big questions

Cancer forces us to ask questions like, “Who I am and what really matters to me?” I asked, “What do I want my life to be about?” “Do I need a new foundation upon which to build a more authentic version of me based on who I am now?” Yikes, those were big questions. Ones I would have never asked before cancer. I slowly began to let go of former values and accepted the need to undergo a scary and uncertain period of transition.

The outcome was unknown but letting go of a few beliefs and some old identities, allowing for deeper and more meaningful relationships to occur. Certainly, chemotherapy was not a joy to go through, nor was surgery, or radiation, or hormone therapy. But through the process, I developed and am still uncovering a new sense of self.

One of the most powerful transition tools I believe is writing about your personal cancer challenges and finding the silver lining in each experience. After reading articles by others, I ask what kind of gift from my experience can be offered to someone else. Being told you are facing chemotherapy, or a stem cell transplant is frightening.

While our experiences may never be the same, having encouragement from one who walked a similar path can offer some much-needed comfort.

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