Finding the Silver Lining
I was chatting with a good friend and fellow volunteer at the MacMillan Centre yesterday and he suddenly turned to me and said that being diagnosed with cancer had given him a new purpose and perspective in life. He commented upon how cancer has led him to meeting and helping lots of people who have 'been there' and with whom he can easily connect. We soon expanded the conversation and we both realised how much our lives have changed and not all of it bad. We have both lost friends who were not able/prepared to make compromises for the new us but we have also made new ones, caring, generous people who make allowances for our bad days and who give us practical support and laughter when it is needed. In addition of course, our voluntary work has given us purpose and the feeling of being useful.
Would it sound arrogant if I say that I think that I have a greater sense of kindness and compassion for others than I had before? As a 'buddy' I often chat with men who have recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. By talking about my own experiences and removing some of the mystery I can usually see an easing of the natural fear and anxiety in their demeanour.
One of my favourite singers Chris Rea, had a huge hit with a song called 'The Road the Hell' in 1989. little did he know at the time that he would subsequently be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and undergo the removal of his pancreas and gall bladder. He has 30 pills and 7 injections every day. He says that he now preaches 'Learn to live life, see the clouds, feel the wind, there are so many things that you think are important actually aren't. He has practiced this by putting his wife and daughters first, enjoying a pint in the pub and writing and playing music he likes rather than seeking fame.
Cancer reminds us that our time on earth is limited and that it is important to live life to the full and not waste it on things that don't matter.