To be sure, news of cancer close to home is wrapped in sadness and anxiety, both for the patient and for the family. But like birth and death, this is one of the few life experiences you fundamentally face on your own, for however many loved ones are around you, the cancer journey is essentially a solitary one.
Treasuring the moment at hand is what lifts the spirit. Dismiss it as cliched talk if you will, but to those threatened by a grave illness, every day of just being takes on a new light. Surely you wonder how you could ever complain again—about a rainy day, a broken piece of china, or someone's unkind words. Though that feeling of equanimity salves the cancer shock, it can also linger in the consciousness and become a subtle yet permanent state of being. I catch myself when I get too caught up in some silly little thing; I remind myself, What am I doing? How lucky I am to be here.
From LIVING TIME: Faith and Facts to Transform Your Cancer Journey by Bernadine Healy, M.D. Copyright © 2007 by Bernadine Healy. Published by arrangement with the Bantam Dell Publishing Group
This story appeared in the April 9, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.