Staying Positive Through Trial – Part 1

When I started my blog, I had a list of initial topics. However, I asked a few friends if there was anything they would like to see me talk about. One of them asked me to talk about staying positive through trials. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed the topic was perfect for my first real post.

When I tell people my story, more often than not, they are surprised at how positive I am, and how positive I stayed through my battle with cancer and treatment. In the beginning, it wasn’t a conscious decision. Over time, it certainly became that, but it didn’t start that way. I remember during my first hospital stay my parents remarking on how well I was dealing with the diagnosis. The only thing I knew for sure was that life kept going. Time didn’t stop just because I had cancer. In those initial days, all I could think was to just keep going. In fact, during those early days, I didn’t want to know the numbers and overall prognosis. I knew enough to know that stage iv cancer wasn’t good, but I didn’t want to know more than that. It took months before I was ready for that information. I learned several years ago that sometimes you just have to take things ten minutes at a time. You get through ten minutes, and then the next ten minutes and before you know it, an hour has passed. And then another an hour, and then a day and before you know it more time has passed than you thought possible.

There’s a quote I’ve always loved that I put into practice once I was diagnosed with cancer.

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Niebuhr

While I didn’t specifically think of that quote after I was diagnosed, I did think of my situation in terms of what I could change and what I could not. No matter what trial we are facing, we can divide it into two categories – what we can change and what we cannot. I couldn’t change that I had stage iv colon cancer. I couldn’t change that I didn’t find out I had Lynch Syndrome until I’d been diagnosed with late stage cancer. I couldn’t change that I had Lynch Syndrome. My mantra, if you like, became “it is what it is.” I couldn’t change what had already happened, but I realized I could change how I dealt with it. I could choose to be consumed by it, or I could learn to live with it. How we deal with our trials is up to us. We can choose to find help. We can choose our attitude. I promise you a positive attitude will make it easier for you and those around you. It’s not the be all answer, but it can’t hurt.

I had to learn the difference between what I could change and what I couldn’t change. I couldn’t afford to put my energy into what I couldn’t change; even before surgery and chemo, I didn’t have energy to spare. Banging my head against an immovable object wasn’t going to get me anywhere. Instead, I gave up the immovable object to God. I couldn’t do anything with it, but God could. Giving up our problems to God isn’t that easy though. It takes effort and a daily commitment. It’s not something we say we’re going to do one day, and then never make that decision again. It’s a daily decision we have to make.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow