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


I often wonder if Henry David Thoreau was correct when he said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.  We live in a culture where repression is a way of life.  We’re afraid of “being who we really are” or concerned about being shunned for following the path decorated with our gifts and talents for the “brass ring”.  Many people are in relationships that are unfulfilling or troubled.  Then there are those who have been diagnosed with an illness and are still trying be the “good patient”.

Over the past few months I have met many people who have/are leading lives of quiet desperation.  However, they seem to have one thing in common; they saw a glimmering light that was a beacon to possibility.  As I watch these individuals I’m surprised at how the pendulum has swung and they are experiencing a freedom they never felt before.  There is a light in their eyes that is exuberant, but at the same time because it’s new and untested has to mindful that it doesn’t get away from the person.

I remember the first time I saw the movie with William Hurt, “The Doctor”.  Hurt plays a doctor who eventually gets diagnosed with cancer and the tables on his life are turned.  He meets a woman, another patient, who has abandoned the “shoulds” in her life and she takes him on an adventure of “Living” that he hadn’t experienced in any other time in his life.  The trouble is like Hurt’s character in the film, most people can’t handle that amount of newness or reclaimed life in one felt swoop.

Where does this leave us?  Following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness, I’ve heard many people live life as if they were given a gift.  What you do with that gift is entirely up to you, however learning to manage this new freedom, awakening, or unrepressed living can be as scary as a life of quiet desperation.  This is when it’s important to take baby steps.  When having this awakening try new things, that’s why a “bucket list” is so good because it’s a list of possibility.  See what’s on your list and attainable, and what things need to be worked toward to accomplish.

I hope you’ll think of this awakening as part of the continuum of life and full expression is the goal.  There is a disclaimer to all this…you don’t live in a vacuum, so be mindful that others in your life still have to adjust or find ways of sharing this awakening with you.  You still need support on your journey to wellness, but you may find some new pilgrims along your pilgrimage to health and healing who will be your sherpa through this confusing and exciting time.

Are you having an awakening?  Let me know so we can be on this journey together!

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

You Are A Character

Many of my family and friends read fiction (I’m a non-fiction guy).   They read fantasy, science fiction, and mysteries and they get especially excited when an author writes a series.  You hear people who enjoy a series referring to revisiting with their friends.  Some of these authors are writing five, six, or  more books, a thousand pages a piece so after six-thousand pages I guess you’d know the characters pretty well.  There’s a lot of thought that goes into creating a series because as Stephen Covey states in, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you should begin with the end in mind.

Obviously your life isn’t fiction.  It’s clear that even if you were living a “fantasy” life things change when the doctor gave you your diagnosis although you may have lived in the land of make-believe not wanting to admit the truth.  You don’t plan your life the way an author plans out a series, but what if your life were a series?

From the time of your diagnosis you have the opportunity to re-write your future.  You are obviously going to have challenges along the way, but if you think like an author, how would you get yourself out of a predicament?  What would you do so that in the end there was resolution.  I want to be clear that I purposely did not write “a happy ending” because not everyone will survive an illness.  I’ve also been quite clear over the past few weeks that there’s a difference between feeling better and getting well.

What do you want your story to look like?  What changes will you have to make as you tell your story?  What new people will come into your life as a result of your diagnosis?  I remember the movie with William Hurt called, The Doctor , where he plays a doctor who gets diagnosed with cancer.  He meets a woman who is going through treatment and she shows him a world he’d never seen before full of beauty, laughter, and awe.  What impact will these characters/people you meet along the way have on your health and healing practices?  What would you like to learn so that you seek someone like Yoda in the Star Wars films?

We have tremendous opportunities to rewrite our story.  Even if you don’t feel as if you could write the Great American Novel, you can write the best story about your life and have others read it by watching how you life your life.  Okay, so maybe it’s not a book, perhaps it’s a sitcom or a drama that continues from season-to-season. 

It’s your life, your story, and you get to be the author.  How will you end up on the best seller list?