Submitted by Dr. Robert F. Lane on
Some patients feel they have written every chapter of their lives carefully, tried hard, planned ahead, done everything right or at least done their best. Then along came cancer, presenting them with a chapter they have no idea how to write and their script comes to an end. They begin to flounder. For them I hope this blog/book-to-be will provide some clues and direction.
YOU CAN DO THIS
There are those who have had one hardship after another, after another, whose lives have been written by circumstances beyond their control and once again an unfair, unjust author, this time named Cancer, has taken up a pen in their lives. For them I hope this blog will show them a way to take the pen back and write their own story with both meaning and purpose, and an ending they are excited about.
When you're lost in the woods, you need to pay special attention to what's going on inside you as well as all around you. Is your urine getting darker yellow and less frequent, are you getting dehydrated? Are you still shivering, and are you thinking clearly or are you getting hypothermic? What does the sky tell you about the weather and the sun tell you about the points of the compass, and the flow the rivers tell you about the way out of the mountains? You have to learn to read the terrain on the inside and outside.
I belabor this because those are the things most people don't think about until they're lost. They set off running in desperation to get safely home little realizing that speed has little to do with whether they survive let alone get out of the woods.
Cancer is no different. In order to survive, you have to slow down and start thinking, and think about stuff you may have never needed or wanted to think about , make observations about yourself, listen to your body, your soul, your past life, and consider all kinds of ideas, wrestle with them and experiment with them.
This is a fragile and desperate time and nerves are raw. It can be hard to listen and digest all that you hear let alone put it all together. The temptation is to move too fast, listen too little and think not enough. Preconceptions fueled by fear and anxiety misdirect the process. The first preconception to dispel is that cancer grows fast and action must be taken quickly to attack it. With rare exception cancer does not and actions need not. Therefore, take time to listen to your life, gather information and rethink basic ideas. You have time to take a deep breath and make decisions carefully.
"Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new."* Steve Jobs, Stanford report, June 14, 2005.
It is your time to be thinking about some new things. Start now.
I have wanted to write this blog for a diverse group of people like whose lives intersect with the ringing bell of the diagnosis. The most profound life-sustaining and life expanding decision for many of them was to start, restart or accelerate a spiritual journey. While their motivations were similar and their destinations the same, the paths they took were markedly different. I recognize that you, like them, may be anywhere or nowhere along such a journey, so I have written from several different perspectives.
I will let the Windrunners experiences speak for themselves. Where Christianity enters their stories, I have taken the input of patients, pastors and theologians in an attempted to represent its core orthodoxy, or better put: just who Jesus is, how to know him and what difference it made. I try to do it through the lens of the faith experiences of my patients as well as my own, our stumbling blocks and our “AH HA” moments, without presuming to be a seminarian or theologian. Rather than focusing on the nuances of doctrine that separates denominations, I’ve focused on the discoveries and practices that made a difference for those running a Bell Lap.
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