Sunday, December 28, 2008


" not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. ~ Max Ehrmann, "Desiderata"~

I took this from a newsletter that was forwarded to me by a friend from the Cancer Crusade. I can't find a link to the newsletter on their site, but I'm hoping that it's OK to copy it, because it's worth sharing.

Roger and Kathy CawthonThe Cancer Crusadee

One of our recent weekly messages told of the day I was asked to read and sign a 13-page consent form required for my participation in a particular clinical trial. The form listed all of the possible side effects of the standard and experimental drugs and other treatments that would be combined for the trial, and none of them were pleasant. In fact, they were all pretty awful, involving sudden death and other experiences I would just as soon...well, not experience.

As I have moved through the 13 years since that terrifying day, I have learned from various sources of other potential risks of the drugs I took (and, in one case, am still taking) and other treatments I received.Once I learned from Brian Williams on NBC's "Nightly News" that I may not have even needed one or two of the drugs I took, drugs that may lead one of these days to other serious diseases and conditions. On another occasion, I learned that I probably should have had more of a specific type of treatment than I did in fact have.

And once I received a registered letter from my oncologist informing me that a drug I was taking could cause cataracts. (Note to oncology professionals: Receiving a registered letter from you may cause heart palpitations, profuse sweating, nausea and dizziness. Since cataracts aren't a life-threatening condition, could information like this possibly wait until your patient's next checkup? And if you must send a registered letter, could you please mail it early in the week so that your patient doesn't find a pink slip in her mailbox saying there is a registered letter from you waiting at the post office that she can't retrieve for two days because it is now 6 PM on Friday evening which means she is facing an entire weekend of the aforementioned heart palpitations, profuse sweating and...well, I was just wondering.)

And on still another occasion, I learned that there were things I could have done and should have done 20 or 30 years before my diagnosis that might have prevented that diagnosis. Just exactly what was I supposed to do with that information?

What indeed. It's a fact that - for as long as any of us lives - whether we are cancer survivors or the fortunate ones who've never had cancer - we are going to learn about things we did that we shouldn't have done, things we should have done that we didn't do, things that were done to us or happened to us that couldn't have been helped and even some that were done to us with what were believed to be our best interests at heart. Unless we want to live in a cave, we are going to find out things we perhaps would rather not know because we live in an age of instant information (registered letters notwithstanding).

So what are we to do with this information? If it is troubling or frightening, we can discuss it with someone who can calm our fears. The oncologist may be able to explain that we have interpreted some news item incorrectly or that something we thought applied to us really does not. A professional counselor or spiritual advisor can often help us find our way through the scary stuff that does apply to us.I have often relied on both of the above, but the years have taught me to turn more and more often to a third option.I stop everything, breathe deeply, and remind myself to trust.

Come on. Do it with me. Right now. Here's how: Trust that you are, right this minute, right where you are supposed to be. Trust that your life is unfolding exactly as it should. Trust that you and the life you are living are vital pieces - essential parts - of a much bigger plan that is also unfolding exactly as it should. Trust that you have been given exactly the knowledge and experiences you need in order to grow the spirit you were meant to have.

Instead of a prayer, I will close this affirmation with a link to Max Ehrmann's "Desiderata" (excerpted above) which I have always found to be profoundly comforting and helpful when struggling to trust. May it bring you peace and healing today.

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