Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Are You a Track Star?

I’m not the physical activity kind of guy which is why I’m asking you the question about being a track star.  Truth be told I’m not interested in your literal ability to run like a track star, but your emotional and spiritual ability to be the fastest runner on the planet.  When runners run they run toward the finish line.  As non-runners when we run we generally are running away from something.  What are you running from?  Gee, what could it be?

When faced with a diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness the first response is to hide and the next likely candidate is to run.  But where will you run to and how fast can you get there.  You run because you feel like the illness is chasing you toward an unknown abyss.  You run because if you can keep enough distance between you and the diagnosis it won’t catch you and you won’t have to deal with it…too late for that!

As a kid my younger brother would chase me for fun (he was the athletic one).  I would scream to my mother and say, “Mom, Eric is chasing me”.  She would gently reply, “Stop running and he can’t chase you”.  Believe it or not that thought had never occurred to me.  I thought when faced with the fear of being chased running was the most likely response when in actuality diffusing his attempt at chasing was far more effective.

Stop in your tracks!  If you think you can outrun your diagnosis then you are more delusional than I had anticipated.  All running does is delay the inevitable, that is facing the diagnosis with a fierce determination to get well.  Running takes time and energy that we don’t want to waste on activities that don’t yield a positive result.  Running is exhausting (or so I’m told). 

If you are going to run I strongly urge you to run toward something.  Find a doctor that you believe will be the answer to your prayer and run as fast as you can to get there.  Find a support group that will give unconditional support when you’re too exhausted to run.  Find a spiritual director who will guide you on the biggest pilgrimage on your life toward health and healing.  Whatever you do be conscious that you’re running toward something and not running away or avoiding something.