I have to applaud writers of any kind because often bring forth ideas that are held by the collective consciousness. It’s the feelings or ideas we all have but often don’t say out loud and then we hear them in a song of a movie and feel validated, intrigued, or simply free. I felt that way when I was watching a movie titled, “To Save a Life”. The story is about the impact of teen suicide on a young man struggling with the normal challenges of being a teenager. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was a Christian film, but if you could remove pigeonholing the film for those ideologies you’ll see the themes and messages are universal.
Toward the end of the film the youth minister (I think it was him) say, “Life’s a journey, not to a destination, but to a transformation”; that was a pause the movie moment. When I heard that line I immediately thought about those of us diagnosed with a chronic or other life-altering illness, because if it’s only about the destination you’ll miss so many opportunities along the way to experience health and healing.
You may be asking if it’s really possible to experience transformation after the diagnosis of an illness and of course the answer is YES. Transformation may be on other levels aside from the physical. It may include emotional, spiritual, social, and even financial transformations. I wrote a post a few weeks ago speaking about the difference between getting better and getting well. So if getting well isn’t an option based on the diagnosis and getting better is the goal; then how will you experience transformation?
It’s possible that you develop new levels of compassion and understanding. You may become a better listener to your family and friends. You may break out of our shell and become a bit more adventurous. If you think about Tim McGraw’s song, “Live like you were dying”, you’d understand the types of transformation I’m discussing. I encourage you to listen to that song because it discusses his own transformation after his father famous baseball play Tug McGraw died of a brain tumor.
Thing about what your transformation might entail and what steps you’d like to take to make sure they materialize. It’s a process, not a one time event. Our lives are forever transforming; that’s what we call growth.
When battling any type of illness hope is a major factor in maintaining focus. It’s amazing the power that our minds have over our bodies. Our belief systems influence the fire within and it’s that fire that propels us to take on tasks and overcome obstacles we never thought possible. Imagine if we truly harnessed the power of our minds? I think we’d offer the medical community a huge boost in survival and remission rates.
So who are your examples as you strive for wellness? I was watching the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and Senator Ted Kennedy gave a formidable speech. His words were important, but there were other aspects of his appearance that were momentous. The fact that he’s in treatment for brain cancer is amazing. The fact that he left the hospital last night in order to make the appearance at the DNC is amazing. The fact that he stated that he would be on the Senate floor in January is amazing. Do you see where I’m going?
Senator Kennedy didn’t put qualifying statements in his speech. He didn’t say, “If I’m well…” or any self message that would impede his journey to wellness. He made declarative statements and those sentiments vibrate throughout each cell in his body. He informs his body that he has a mission to complete. He’s not playing victim to his body or to the cancer. Just as he has throughout his life; he’s facing the illness the way he has every other challenge, with fortitude and determination.
Are there any guarantees? Of course not, but don’t you believe that his attitude and determination give the cancer a run for its money? You may not have all the eyes of the country on you, but you do have a circle of influence who is cheering you on, supporting your efforts to get well and will take your lead on how to respond to you as you face your health challenge. In that moment, you become the power of example…that’s something that is to be applauded and becomes a living legacy.
Let’s face it, life happens. We don’t have blueprints for how our lives are laid out. There are no guarantees about anything much less our health. When you work with individuals who face life-altering health diagnoses you begin to play detective based on information about a person. When I heard that Senator Ted Kennedy had a seizure my first thought was a tumor. I didn’t know where in the brain it would be located, but given his age and relative good health for a 76 year old man, it just made sense.
This really tells us that no one is immune to a health crisis. Think of Humpty Dumpty…all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again. Unfortunately the same is true for Senator Kennedy. No matter how many connections he has, no matter how much money he has and no matter how famous and a champion in politics he may be, he won’t be put back together again.
It’s a wonderful fantasy that money and success bring good health. Obviously that’s not the case. Look at all the women in the entertainment world fighting breast cancer. This week we saw the passing of Sydney Pollack, a 73 year old man who couldn’t be put back together again.
No one is immune to the body’s betrayal. We can take steps to reduce our risk, but in the end it only takes one cell or one gene to have a mind of its own and we’re at its mercy. Give yourself the benefit of increasing the chances for health, but don’t feel that you’ve been picked out of a line-up based on specific characteristics. I don’t believe in a million years that Senator Kennedy would have considered facing the challenge of a brain tumor. We’re all in this together.