Watching my husband deal with his illness has taught me more than just dosages and side effects that people going through chemotherapy have to deal with. As a partner, a witness, and being a survivor myself, if you ask anyone who’s had it, cancer can be one of life’s biggest teachers–if you allow it.
It was many years ago that I had my own struggle with cancer, and now, I find I’m on the outside looking in at another cancer battle. I know this fight is not about me, but I can’t help but see the lessons that are here for me, too—as a wife, caregiver, partner, nurse, woman, daughter, human being. I cannot speak for my husband but we talk a lot about what he’s going through and what lessons there are for him in all this. It was after one of those conversations I realized that the lessons that illness can teach, aren’t necessarily limited to those directly suffering from it.
I’ve learned things about myself, some good and some not so good. I’ve finally learned where my limits are and that it’s completely okay to say, “No.”
No, I can’t do it
No, I’m not going to worry about this
God, you can take this one.
So I didn’t and God did, and because of that, I am trusting more and having faith that things will get done and whatever way it falls, things will be alright. Really.
I’ve learned how uncomfortable people are with the word “cancer”, and because of that, I have become more aware of other people’s unspoken fears.
I’ve learned that sometimes, the deepest unconditional help and love can come from the most unlikely people, so I’m learning to stop being judge and juror.
I’m learning to accept help with grace and not taint it with feelings of failure because I couldn’t do things myself.
I’ve learned how genuine the human heart can be and that there really are good people who put others first when they see someone needs help.
I’ve learned that when someone is in pain, or afraid of the unknown, or just plain feeling like crap physically, emotionally, mentally, it doesn’t matter what my deadlines are, what I’m wearing, how much I weigh, or how much the cable bill is this month. I’ve learned the most important thing is to be present with that person right there right now.
I’m learning to be out of my comfort zone and being okay with it.
I’ve learned it shouldn’t take an illness or the death of someone to find ourselves realigned and reawakened. Sometimes this has to happen—we have to get shaken up—in order to wake up. There will always be that call to make and that book to read and that TV program to watch, but there is a rhythm to life and relationships that seem only to get noticed in times of fear and problems. I’m learning to be more aware, more present, and to get more out of my head and into my heart.
Finally, I’ve learned to thank the circumstances that have surrounded my family for the past few months, because without them, I wouldn’t have learned to dance to this new rhythm and Be Here Now. As long we’re alive, we never stop learning and I don’t know what future lessons will bring, but right now, I can tell you that if you asked me what I know, I’ll say I know nothing. If you ask me what I’ve learned, I’ll say a lot.
To be continued.