Staying Positive Through Trial – Part 2

Staying positive through adversity is also about realizing that happiness is truly in our own hands. Happiness is a choice. Can we look for the silver lining through the clouds? Remaining positive through trial is a choice. It’s not about a lack of negativity, but rather about choosing to trust in the Lord and trusting that He has it all in hand. He’ll never leave us alone. He can’t. Sometimes it feels like we are alone, but I promise you that we’re not. All we have to do is look.

I cannot begin to tell you how many times at night I begged my Heavenly Father to make things just a little easier. From that first week in the hospital when I was diagnosed all through chemo, I cried out to my Heavenly Father to make things even just a little easier. Until I was diagnosed with cancer, I truly didn’t understand what it meant when the prophets cried out to Heavenly Father. I learned that Heavenly Father won’t always move our mountains, but he will always help us climb them if we reach out to Him and ask for His help.

My knowledge of the plan of salvation is something else that got me through. I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and went through both primary and young women’s.  I’ve been learning about the plan of salvation since before I can remember. But it wasn’t until cancer that it went from an abstraction to something that could truly work in my life. The plan of salvation helps us understand the reason we are here on earth  and that there is more to come when our time here on earth is done. It tells us that sickness and affliction are not permanent states of affairs. We learn that we have a Savior, Jesus Christ, who died not just for our sins, but for every pain and affliction and sickness we would face on earth. The plan of salvation gives us hope by telling us that pain and heartache and affliction are not permanent. They help us grow and their time will end. We learn we will be resurrected and our bodies will be without fault. My body will be free of cancer and genetic defect.  And even if things are not alright in this life, they will be in the life to come. In addition, when compared to eternity, this life is but a small moment.

In the end, staying positive through any trial comes down to this question. Do you trust your Heavenly Father to see you through?

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

Introduction

Welcome to my new blog, Faith & Cancer. My name is Jacqueline and I’ll be your host. The long version of my story can be found in the links about, but the short version is that shortly before I turned 33, I was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome as well. The combination of surgery and chemotherapy got me to NED status, or No Evidence of Disease. I’ve now been cancer free for nearly 2 years.

A cancer diagnosis is not an easy thing to live with. A stage IV cancer diagnosis is an even harder thing to live with. How do you continue to live your life even as you wrestle with your own mortality? Without question, my faith is what got me through. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The world knows us as Mormons. I grew up in the church, learning about where we came from and where we’re going. I learned of my Savior, Jesus Christ and that He died for you and for me, and everyone else. I learned about so many things, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer that all the things I learned became real to me.

I’ve started this blog to share my thoughts of my journey thus far and to share what comes next. I’m cancer free now, but I’m still at relatively high risk of it returning. Lynch Syndrome means I’m at higher risk of various cancers. My last surgery left me with Ovarian Remnant Syndrome. My health journey is far from over. My spiritual journey will never be over. Cancer forever intersected the two.