Posted in coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness

Anchors Away

When we’re newly diagnosed we have lots of decisions to make, often in a short period of time.  It’s not often that we take the time to focus on our identity as a person with a health challenge when more pressing matters are present.  I’ve started wondering…in order to experience wellness, do we have to let go of who we were and embrace who we will become.

Let me just say that when I say “who we will become” I’m not focusing on the illness itself.  I’m really thinking about the qualities, characteristics, behaviors, experiences that we will have as a result of our illness.  I’ve worked with individuals for many years, following my own health challenge, and people ask would we change anything?  The obvious answer is YES…we could choose not to be ill.  Then I started thinking and of course the ideal is to be healthy with no restrictions and certainly no medical treatment walking by our side.  I also began to think about what have I become since my diagnosis.

On a personal note, my auto-immune diagnosis came late in my adolescence.  I have grown up with my illness and maybe that’s different than those being diagnosed as adults.  What I know is that I’ve become a more inquisitive person.  I engage in more conversations about things that matter to me and I certainly am particular about those I choose to spend time with on a regular basis.

What is developing in you?  Are you becoming more assertive?  Have you realigned your priorities so that what you say and how you act are congruent?  I think of Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” and it rings a strong chord.  Who will we become as a result of a diagnosis or the diagnosis of someone who is near an dear to our hearts.

This may seem like the furthest thing from the minds of those who are newly diagnosed.  I can assure you that the questions had begun long before your diagnosis.  We watch those around us get sick, some overcome the challenge and others die, but the questions begin and we can’t stop them.  When we’re diagnosed it goes from a passing thought to, for some, an obsession.  Questions are good.  The Ancient Greeks lived in the question and they felt that’s how you achieved the “Good Life”.  Isn’t that something we all want?

Don’t be afraid of who you’ll become because you won’t ever lose the humor, compassion, love and experiences you had pre-diagnosis.  This in a bizarre way just adds to our repertoire.  I’d love to know who you’re becoming…please share it with us!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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