Last week at the gym, as I was getting dressed, one of my gym buddies asked me how I was doing (post-mastectomy) and then proceeded to tell me how brave she thought I was. I shrugged off the compliment and replied, “What choice do I have? You’re either a survivor or a victim to the things that happen in your life, and I will never be a victim to my circumstances.”
That conversation got me thinking about the theme of my blog this month–inspirational stories that stem from a diagnosis of cancer–and I immediately remembered just such a story I read well before the inception of my blog. I was so inspired by the author’s journey and how she used her diagnosis as a means of positive change in her life, that I copied the story and saved it for future reference.
The authors name is Jan Jacobsen and, with her permission, I am sharing her story with you. I hope you are as inspired as I was (and continue to be) by this remarkable woman.
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Hang In There – Amazing Surprises, Twists and Coincidences Ahead!
by Janet Jacobsen
“Around the bend, in the unseen, arising from the very uncertainties that may now seem to taunt you, there are some amazing surprises, awesome twists, and spellbinding coincidences about to emerge that you can’t even now imagine.” (Mike Dooley)
Coincidentally, I received this quote last week. It was perfect timing because exactly one year ago I began my 6-week radiation and chemo treatment for recurrent uterine cancer and was deeply immersed in the misery of nausea, weakness, and the dismal awareness that the odds of the grueling treatment working were slim to none. It was difficult to imagine back then that a year later I’d still be here…thriving!
With time possibly limited, I was motivated this year to immerse myself in the present moment, savoring it like delicious candy, and to my great delight, time has stretched like taffy into a sweet eternal Nooooow! The quality of time has literally changed for me. I don’t just know, I feel that right now is all there is. Whenever my mind races into a feared future, I say “Whoa Nelly!”, and take deep slow breaths, bringing my mind back to the bounty of this nourishing present moment. This is a great treasure I have found! “It is eternity now; I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is immortal life.” (Richard Jefferies)
Another great treasure that this year has brought me is a new commitment to focus on the healing, wholing, holy energy of love. For the rest of my life, however long that is, love is what I want to create and where I want to dwell. People say you can’t take it with you, but I believe that when it’s time to go, we do take with us how much we have loved in this life. I am stocking up on love!
I have also lasered into living my life on purpose, getting on with what I came here to do — writing from my heart and soul and sharing it with others. I always said I would write someday – cancer has kicked my someday into ‘write’ now! It is a treasure beyond measure to think that I can be of help in this way.
This year I have learned to not sweat the small stuff but instead to celebrate the big stuff, like the present moment, love, and living a purposeful life. What a bountiful banquet I have found myself at! I couldn’t know a year ago when things seemed so dire, that a more vibrant, meaningful, luscious life was about to unfold. “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”
Last week I saw the documentary, I Am, created by Tom Shadyac, a highly successful director of comedy hits like Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Nutty Professor. In 2007 he was in a bike accident, which damaged his arm and his head, leaving him with Post Concussion Syndrome. He suffered intense pain, mood swings, and ringing in his head for many months. He didn’t think he was going to make it, and he began to welcome death.
Faced with death, he asked himself, “If this is it for me – if I really am going to die – what do I want to say before I go? What will be my last testament?” Miraculously, with this new sense of purpose, his symptoms began to subside, allowing him to focus on and create the heart-opening, soul-stirring, mind-expanding film, I Am. In it he explores what’s wrong with the world and how we can help make it right. What he ultimately discovered is that there is more right about the world than wrong.
Can you remember times when things looked bleak, but turned out even better than you could imagine? When we hang in there, twists and turns and coincidences present themselves, and our life miraculously goes from sucky to succulent, from yucky to YUM! No matter how things may seem, be open for surprises and miracles!
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In a recent email from Jan she reports that, now three years since her diagnosis of uterine cancer, there have been no recurrences and she is still savoring every moment of her life. Thank you, Jan, for being such an inspiration, not only to myself but to everyone you’ve touched with your amazing courage, strength and positive attitude.
To read more of Janet Jacobsen’s inspirational essays, click on Jan’s website here.