Cancer is like a truth serum: You find out what you are made of as well as what everyone else is all about.
That was a lesson I was not prepared for, or welcomed, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was also an unexpected upside of an otherwise calamitous situation.
When you are diagnosed with cancer you are forced to look at your life, relationships and the choices you have made on a whole new scale. It puts a spotlight on the good, the bad and the ugly whether you are ready for them or not. Relationships are tested, expectations challenged, beliefs splintered, priorities changed and your reality is altered. Ultimately, though, cancer will also show you how strong, remarkable and resilient you really are.
When it came to getting what I wanted at work I could be relentless. I would work countless hours and jump high hurdles to get what I needed to do the job right. In my personal life, I was much more passive and not as engaged. I knew what I wanted but didn’t have the energy or make the time to get it. I went with the flow and took everything at face value.
I had relationships that I thought could withstand my diagnosis but found cancer was a taller order than some could handle. No matter how bad I wanted some things to be a certain way they just weren’t. When I finally got honest with myself, I was able to see the expanse between my desires and reality was what was causing my pain. I had to take a step back and look at my expectations and how they came to be.
Cancer cleared up a lot of misconceptions for me about myself and others. I found a voice I never knew I had. I went to the mat every time a challenge came up and stepped up for myself 100%. I became too tired to fight my pride anymore so I acknowledged my shortcomings and learned to ask for help. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be I just had to know who to ask. It forced me to look at my family and friends for who they were, not who I wanted them to be. I didn’t think of or love them any less; I developed a deeper understanding of them. Some friendships faded and others became stronger, more honest, genuine and easier than I ever could have imagined.
The truth serum of cancer is a hard one to swallow. I don’t recommend it as the best path to enlightenment, stronger relationships, or a more fulfilling life; I can’t, it sucks. However, once you see what it brings to light in yourself and others, or when you start to find and use your true voice, it becomes clear how much more rewarding your life can be. Cancer pushes you to places you never would have gone if not forced. It can also free you to enjoy a more authentic life while you are here.