I have recently returned from a week on the English coast, with our grandchildren and we had probably pretty much continuous wind and rain the whole time. It was possibly the wettest week of the year! We all know that the English weather can be extremely unpredictable so we gambled on the end of August being at least warm. Even before we left I saw the weather forecasts then immediately thought of the problems of trying to keep youngsters occupied, all I could see were the negatives. Bad weather and bored children for a week wasn’t how I imagined spending my valuable time. But once we arrived, the kids loved their new scenery and we were all laughing as we got caught in the first shower of the day. Soon we had planned things to do that weren’t weather reliant and we all had a great time. There really were many positives to come out of our break, but the negatives were the first thing I saw.
Since my diagnosis in 2007 I have continuously seen all the things I have lost because of my poor health. It has almost become a natural way of thinking, concentrating on all the bad things that were happening to me. Which is quite strange as prior to my illness I was a really positive and confident guy. So was it the disease that affected me and how did my personality change so much? Why it happened I still don’t know but it has, and I am receiving some specialist help to deal with it. Looking for the positives in every situation is what I now work hard to do, and it is very difficult I have to say. It has been like re training my brain, which at my age is no small task!
I’ll have to agree when many people ask how can you find any positives from cancer? When first diagnosed it felt like my world was collapsing, and someone had pulled everything from under my feet! Almost everything I knew and relied upon was taken from me. Like many people I had always taken my health for granted but realised I could now do nothing without it. I was relying on my clinicians, family, and an awful lot of luck. It became quickly apparent that with unreliable health for the rest of my life and the possibility of the disease coming back at any stage my life plans were trashed. As my health became more unreliable it became difficult to find the positives. Everyone of course was encouraging, and the favourite phrase became “stay positive” which is much easier said by people who never saw the scans and had the conversations about making sure your affairs are in order.
On one of my long stays as an inpatient as my liver was starting to fail it was remarked that I didn’t seem my usual self. I was then visited by a member of the psychology team who asked me what my problem was, I replied that I was feeling fed up, and when he looked in my encyclopedia proportion sized case notes replied, “I’m not surprised!” Which did actually make me smile. As a healthy man I had never worried about my career and earning potential as I knew that as long as I was able to work I could earn, which I guess gave me some confidence. As my long term health issues began to open up, the fact that I would never be able to work regularly started to play on my mind, then I started doubting my own ability. Even if I was able to survive, what would I do with my time, I struggled to see any positives at all!
But actually they were there, it was that I was struggling to see them. I was still alive, there were my family and friends supporting me. It started from there, being grateful for what I had previously taken for granted, and there was a lot of it! Now when I reflect on my time as a cancer patient, I can actually see so many incredibly positive things that have happened, that would never have happened in my previous life. Of course I wouldn’t choose my current life but it has happened and I must make the best of it. Some people say that they feel a better person since cancer, and I am not really one that agrees with that, but I do know that I am gaining a lot more satisfaction from what I do now, than when I was charging around chasing money.
I am a great believer in Karma and ‘paying it forward’ whenever I can, and in recent weeks I have received some totally unexpected exciting invitations. The world certainly moves in mysterious ways but I have become used to it now and have begun to believe that there will me more good things to come. I never wanted a mundane life, and my early steps into self-employment certainly ensured that didn’t happen but since my diagnosis life has been incredibly unpredictable, so I guess that could be seen positively too. If it were my choice I would still be working, and have little knowledge of cancer, but life has shown me a different path. We have all seen things we never expected to in our lifetime, things we couldn’t influence, and we must make the best of them.
Do you find it easy to find any positives from a difficult situation? Is it easier to find the negatives? How have you dealt with your own issues? As always I would love to hear your experiences.