An incredible part of my journey with cancer has been words of wisdom that I have received from so many people. Words that have inspired me, comforted me, encouraged me, given me hope and driven me to action. Some of these words have been from past survivors of cancer — people anxious to share what they have learnt to make my journey easier. Some from students I taught many years ago. Some from new friends I have never met from faraway lands. Every one of these comments have been gifts given to me at a time of need. Here is a sampling of those that have had a huge impact on me:
Early in my journey, someone sent me a quote that said, “The Will of God never takes you to where the Grace of God will not protect you.” I have carried these words with me every day as it gives me comfort that a smiling God is right there with me every step of the way.
Someone brought me a frame that contains a powerful quotation about light. I start the day reading the words every morning. It infuses light in every part of my being and starts the day right.
One lady, when she sees me at Jamatkhana, calls me “The Great Pretender”. She is convinced that I don’t have any cancer given how well I look when I have good days. We both have a great laugh after this quick interaction.
One of my past students sent me a powerful email that made me cry. It said, “I have a selfish reason (for you to beat this illness). You have always told me that one day I will be a success in whatever I am destined for. Therefore, you have to make sure that you are around whenever that time comes because I would not have been able to get to where I need to without all your help and encouragement.” Little did he know that he was giving me a purpose and will to live.
A close friend sends me emails every couple of days reminding me to breathe. I had not realized how I tend to forget to take deep breaths when I get busy. Her emails spur me to action and I now make a conscious effort to take 20 deep breaths every day.
Another friend sends me beautiful pictures of nature every few days. It is a great reminder for me to look beyond myself to the beauty of God’s creation and miracle.
One person sent me an email early in my diagnoses to say that I am as strong as a lion. I hold on to this metaphor every time I feel like a scared little girl doing the best with what life has given me.
There are a few individuals that phone and email me periodically to remind me that I will beat the cancers and not to doubt this for a moment. This boosts my spirit. One cancer survivor wrote me an email that I hold dear and read frequently. It is a reminder to listen to my body. In his words, “Your body and spirit will need to work hand in hand in beating [the cancer]. You will have plenty of time to make up for things you have or might have missed, but rest is the body’s way of recovering.” This was a tough message for me at the beginning but one that I am getting better at following. He also encourages me to be future focused. In his words, “your thoughts and energy should be directed at all the things left to do over the next 40 plus years; this will be a very short fight and you will win.” I love this message because it gives me hope for the future and permission to plan for a long, happy and healthy life.
And then there are friends who occasionally “kick my butt” when they feel I am going into self-pity mode and remind me of people who are worse off than me. Great perspective!
Nashukuru to all who continue to offer prayers, send books, respond to blog posts, give much needed hugs and take time to call or visit. Your time and energy to be with us through this time has been our inspiration to move forward positively and tackle this illness head on.
Your words of wisdom have inspired me to do the same with people I meet. Everyone can use a little bit of support and encouragement, someone to talk to, a friendly, non-judgmental ear. If we offered this gift to our friends, family and colleagues unconditionally, what a wonderful contribution we would make to the world.