Good News ~ Bad News
I am noticing that both life in general and cancer have a lot in common. There are elements of both that create fear or can cause one to rejoice. It has become my focus to take what I am learning from my response to cancer so I can apply it to everyday life and grow a stronger muscle of self-awareness.
There’s always good news as well as the potential for what we refer to as bad news. You get both. You cannot manipulate or control things so that you only have the good stuff of life. I wrote a blog post with this title back in February, which illustrates for me that it is a repeated phenomenon that deserves attention.
Naturally, when you first hear the diagnosis of cancer, that would likely be considered bad news. It is not something you wanted in your life, nor did you likely expect it and were not prepared for it. It can even come under the category of dreaded news and therefore create a strong negative connotation that can tend to put your emotions into a tailspin.
On the flip side, both with a life-threatening diagnosis or in life in general, there are times when you unexpectedly experience good news. These surprises are naturally preferred and provide hope and optimism for a positive outcome and a happy life. It is easy to be positive about your future when you’re the recipient of good news.
In my case, my cancer adventure has been a mix and flow of good news and bad news. There are elements I wish did not exist and also some that I was sincerely grateful to have experienced. What I am finding is if I focus more on the good news and allow myself to feel all the lovely side-effects of goodness, it helps me to better deal with the bad news when it shows up.
As in life, it is becoming clearer and clearer on my current path that I cannot escape having both the good and the bad. I just need to be awake enough to be in charge of my response in any situation.
The tricky part is not to be pulled down too far by what we identify as bad news. Obviously, it is fear that can take bad news and run with it causing it to inflate in size and depth, making us feel weaker and more vulnerable than we really are. We humans can tend to take a bit of bad news and weave a tale of horror that not only scares the bejeebers out of us about what will happen next, we can also sacrifice our ability to stay clear and present in the moment. I call this temporary emotional insanity.
When bad news pulls us into fear, we can tend to lose our sense of balance and our ability to reason. We can find ourselves only thinking of the worse case scenarios rather than keep ourselves grounded in reality, which always has something positive for us to hold on to.
I recently experienced the phenomena of a pretty rapid switch from good news to bad news and am still in the process of recovering from the impact.
Last week during my post surgical (lumpectomy) office visit, I learned my pathology report provided very positive news.
Lump #1, the largest and fast growing mass that I first detected back in November, was completely gone. There was nothing left to remove. Chemo did a thorough job. This news felt so good I found myself being grateful that I was able to receive chemo, a far cry from my attitude a few months ago when I was deep in the land of chemo ICK.
Lump #2, the one I did not know existed until after an MRI, had decreased in size to only 4mm. For those reading this that are not familiar with the metric system, it was teeny weeny.
Lump #3 also turned out to be good news. It was not a lump, but a benign node.
The sentinel node biopsy, which can indicate the level of threat of metastases or potential spread to other organs showed only one node to have cancer cells present. My phase two of chemo and post-op radiation is expected to take care of that issue, which is more good news.
Other good news relative to suregery is that I had no post-operative pain and recovered rapidly, reminding me that I am really good at recovering from surgery as compared to my poor record of recovering from sickness, including post chemo side-effects.
After a brief time of flying high on my good pathology news, bad news once again showed it’s ugly head, pulling me into fear and stimulaing my imagination to create a story scarier than what the actual evidence was indicating.
This chapter of bad news was an increasing weakness in both of my legs. I have noticed for several weeks that it was becoming increasinginly difficult to walk upstairs. I was also required to use my arm strength to assist in completing otherwise simple tasks, such as getting off the couch or commode or getting out of the car.
At first, I attributed this weakness to a lack of activity and trusted it would come back when I feel well enough to get to the gym and do some hardcore quad and hamstring strengthening. It wasn’t until I could not get myself out of a lawn chair and needed to be physically assisted a few days ago that I suddenly felt the significance of this weakness.
Thankfully, I only had to wait a few days before being evaluated by my oncologist. The bad news was he did not have a simple explanation for this profound weakness and is referring me to a neurologist. (This appointment is coming up in a few weeks).
What is interesting is rather than still riding high from the good news the pathology report reported, I slipped into the hole of bad news scenarios. My mind focused on every scary thing this weakness could mean. I even imagined myself deteriorating to a point that I would eventually lose my independence and end up in a wheelchair and to make matters worse, eventually be admitted to a local nursing home for custodial care. (This is an example of my beautiful and wild imagination gone bad)
Although I still do not have a definitive answer to explain this profound weakness, I did make a shift back to the positive. My path back to the arena of good news came after doing some journaling in what I refer to as free-writing where my sub-conscious mind takes over and the pen just writes whatever it is I need to read.
My journal writing reminded me that I temporarily simply forgot the truth about myself. I forgot that I am not my body and no matter what happens to my physical form, my true self is invulnerable. My mind and my spirit are healthy and have the power to create an experience of life that can overturn any bad news that shows up.
A short time later, I noticed I felt a shift within myself while working on a workshop outline with my business partner. Clearly, this occurred because my focus was on life-giving material rather than joy-stealing stories I was telling myself a bit earlier. I was tuned into my gifts and my ability to co-create experiences that were positively life-changing.
In truth, my situation did not change. I still don’t know the cause of my current weakness, nor do i know what will happen next or the final outcome. What I do know for sure, however, is that my physical compromise has no power over my attitude and optimism, unless I allow it.
Since I clearly choose to live a life of joy and to be fully present and aligned with embracing a fulfilled life, my fears don’t have a chance. They may pop up now and again and perhaps may even grow to a point that I begin to doubt my own power, but since I know I can always find my way back to the truth, I will always win regardless if I am facing good news or bad news.