Submitted by Dr. Robert F. Lane on
Everyone diagnosed with cancer is confronted with a caliedescope of uncertainties, some of which can be overcome and others only managed. Some lives are defeated, some slowly decay and some are propelled onward triumphantly. I call them WINDRUNNERS.
This blog and book focuses on the triumphant ones, what their lives looked like, the decisions they made, what enabled their success and what it takes to join their ranks.
The uncertainties of cancer patients are for the most part really no different that those we all encounter in the course of our time-limited lives, just less predictable, foreshortened and accordingly more intense. We can all learn something from those who navigate those reef infested waters so well and with such grace. These blogs will hit the high points, the way points on the Windrunner Journey and the books fill in the trails between.
The journey starts with the recognition of the scope and power of the UNCERTAINTY - the mother of all fears that is unleashed in every life by a cancer diagnosis. It ends in a place called PEACE where relationships flourish, sleep is tranquil, purpose fosters contentment, new dreams and adventures are kindled and fear is absent.
Today begins the rest of the story. At CancerDocTAlk.com 74 blogs taken from the book Cancer's Bell Lap provide secular and practical advise to everyone with cancer. (If your cancer diagnosis is new or you are on active treatment start there.) 35 yrs talking to new cancer patients taught me that the mention of anything spiritual chased about a third of them away as they had been so burned and nauseated by churches and "spiritual" people that they didn't want any more of it. But I saw something extraordinary going on in some spiritual seekers who already were or soon became Windrunners.
There are more people being cured of cancer today than 30 years ago, but that is largely due to earlier diagnosis of localized disease for which surgery and other treatments are more likely curative. The cure rate for advanced stage disease hasn’t changed much while our ability to keep patients in remission longer has improved especially with the advent of immunotherapy and biologic response modifiers. So the number of people living under the apprehension of relapse and eventual death, both those hopefully cured and those unlikely ever cured, has grown enormously.
They all live on the outskirts of hope yet ever feeling and fearing that there is a Dragon Behind the Door - the big "WHAT-IF". For some the Dragon is HUGE and others not so much. Some deal with it every day, others not so often. But they all know it is there and it taints the lives of all but a few.
There is a problem bigger than most cancers and that is the illness it causes; the social, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual chaos: the voices of the Dragon. It tries to strike at every cancer patient’s heart, to wear away their every desire, erode every dream and even corrupt every thought. Yet some people can escape the hopelessness and deception; they not only defeat the Dragon but smother it with irrelevancy. They are the Windrunners. .
The book and this blog are about them, the exceptions to the norm, the ones who ran faster, further, and with more grace - and often longer. Who are they? What makes their lives different? What enables them to run their laps with such peace and purpose - even joy? How is it they could finish so strong despite such a weakening discouraging disease? What does it take to be one of them?
What enabled the Windrunners to change? What was the process? This is about those people I have known and loved and cared for who have run (or still are running) what might be their last lap and doing it well – really well! None seemed to know how long it would last, none had ever run it before, none had any idea what to expect, what pains and what fears would lie ahead, nor what resources they would have or others would bring, who would be with them and who wouldn't, or how the disease would end. But they knew something that enabled them to run like the wind anyway. Whatever it was, I wanted it.
Who are these exceptional people? How do they do it? Does it matter? Can anyone do what they did? Their stories will tell you -- and they will tell you that it does matter – immensely, and that you can do it too. It can be easy but it is seldom obvious. It has to do with spirituality, but not in a way you might think, and not in a way that was obvious to me. I was missing something and I didn’t understand what until something else totally unrelated happened to me. It was golden brown and 8ft tall, short nose, teddy-bear ears and a large hump between its shoulder blades.
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