By Tina Valenti
You just found out that you have Cancer……Now what??
There’s an overload of thoughts following the delivery of a major piece of potentially life changing news such as this. What type? How far advanced? What are the treatment options available? What’s my prognosis?
After dealing with the obvious questions that come up with the health care professional, who has delivered the news, people immediately start thinking of the other people in their life that they need to share the news with. Stop, hold the phone and postpone sharing the news. Why? As someone who believes that the emotional essence of the thoughts that we think become our reality, I would argue that until you’ve had a chance to decide how you feel about it, telling other people may not be in your own best interest. Quite the opposite, it may turn out to be the biggest distraction you face in your quest to tune in to your own needs. And, if there’s ever a time that you want to be sure you’re tuning in to your own needs and doing the very best thing for you, it’s in the heightened state of vulnerability that can only truly be present when you perceive your very existence may in fact be threatened.
In this world of information inundation, we are conditioned to look outside of ourselves for guidance and answers. Granted, it makes perfect sense to consult the internet, in order to deepen our knowledge about a given topic. However, when performing that type of research, we get to filter. We can pick and choose which information resonates with us and better yet, do it at our own speed and on our own timetable. We can walk away when we have read or watched enough. We give ourselves time to process and return to our research at our leisure. Once again, choosing the direction of the information path that we feel drawn to pick up the thread of and follow. What we give our attention to and how much weight we allow it to have, is controlled by the observer, you. It naturally allows you the time and space to evolve the process and harvest the nuggets, shaping your thoughts and beliefs into what feels best to you and what resonates at the core of your being.
When you choose to share information with others, however, you lose control because they will respond. They will respond from their perspective and convey how they feel and what they think. They will respond in a way that may be very different from the energy that you yourself would choose to adopt. They will respond reactively and will seek out more information and consult more people (also from their own perspective) and then come back to you and respond some more, all from a place and set of beliefs and emotions that may be very different from your own internal guidance. Not necessarily ideal! When you have just learned something so very personal about yourself, nothing may be more important than the time you choose to give yourself to sit with the information, reflect upon it and see what you come up with. Mixing other people’s ideas, agendas, reactions, expectations and more into the process can further cloud the already muddy waters.
Finding out that you have cancer is almost certainly a time of vulnerability. Vulnerability, in and of itself, can actually be a gift. It can soften the cemented pathways that have come to be your default operating habits of thought and belief and open you up in a way that is truly life changing. It can be used to reconnect you, the outward live-er of your life, with who you really are at the core of your being. It can strip away the busy facade that life causes you to erect and help you to tune in to what is really important to you on a fundamental level. It can remind you what your core desires and beliefs are underneath all the hustle and bustle of normal life as we know it. Best of all, it can afford you an opportunity to make changes, both small and large, in mind and heart, internally and externally. It can provide you the chance to reflect, re-examine and re-decide who and how you want to be, allowing you to effectively reconstruct your beliefs and potentially change your life. There isn’t room for other people in that process.
Other people will focus on your cancer in the same way that they have come to view and approach life in general. Even if they are very close to you, they still can’t help but to view things through their own eyes, from their own perspective, which is by nature a selfish perspective, well intentioned as it may be. Selfish, by definition, is being concerned chiefly or exclusively with oneself. It has gotten a bad rap. But how else can one see the world but through their own eyes, with their own unique experiences and set of beliefs. However, unlike you, the person you may want to share your news with cannot know how it feels to find themselves standing in your shoes. In fact, until you have had time to go inside and take stock, you likely haven’t had the chance to see how it feels to be standing in the shoes you have just recently found yourself wearing.
Your cancer has just effectively changed the rules of the game in terms of how you are perceiving your life. It is highly probable that you have never before played this particular game on this particular court. Cancer is newly personal to you, and therefore can only truly and best be seen, best be leveraged for your ultimate good, when it is considered by you, for you, from your new and unprecedented position of vulnerability. Vulnerability is an ideal state from which to reconsider old habits of belief and thought that may no longer serve you, an excellent opportunity for considering change. Vulnerability allows you to refocus on strength … your strength. In the case of cancer, the perceived burden of vulnerability cannot truly be shared or felt by another. It is yours alone. It is a gift presented which reflects to you alone that which couldn’t be perceived by you in your life from a previous standpoint. It is a gift which can help you stand more firmly on your own two feet than ever before. Permission to do you. Permission to be you. Permission to consider what is the best course of action, to you, for you, by you. Permission to grow and change. Permission to find your true strength. So, before you decide to share the news, just ‘be’ for a bit. Sit with yourself. Take stock of who and where and what and why you are, and where you want to go from here. Do this by cutting out the potential distractions that sharing the information is sure to bring. Do so long enough for you to come to a place of grounded balance within yourself and in so doing you may have just given yourself the gift that turns perceived tragedy into ultimate triumph.