What fuels the fire that gives you the strength to fight your cancer? I needed to really believe that I was going to get well and so I had to find a way to find internal strength and ignite my cancer-fighting fire.
**Warning: this post contains an image with profanity. I found it inspirational but if you are offended by such things, then proceed at your own risk.
I found my strength to fight after my diagnosis. After I went through various stages of grief, disbelief, and a whole host of emotions, I became determined that I would fight. I was not going to sit idly by and let fate and the medical system determine what my future will be. It was unacceptable and I needed to step in and take back what was mine. I was not ready to give in.
I was given a one in three chance that I would survive. People asked me what my odds were, what the prognosis was, but I refused to speak about it. It wasn’t because I was afraid of the odds or that I would have given in to them — it’s because I decided that I was not going to succumb to them and I was going to make my own odds. I told myself over and over again until I firmly believed it that I was going to eradicate it, and I couldn’t wait for my triumphant return. Every chance I got I told that son-of-a-gun in my throat that it’s going away NOW, and it wasn’t just words, it was a promise, and I imagined my immune system punching and kicking the crap out of it.
I became strongly motivated. I became determined that my parents would never have to bury a child of theirs. I became determined that I would not be the first of my siblings to go. I was determined that I would not leave my husband alone in this world.
In order to keep that determination strong, I used a variety of methods to stimulate my passion and rev up my body’s immune system order to beat it.
One of the methods that I used was mental visualization. I needed a mental ally, one that would subconciously keep my immune system fighting even when I was too physically beat, and so I visualized all kinds of different heroes on my side. I had a lot of good suggestions from well-wishers. I pictured a white healing misty aura encircling my throat. I imagined a white knight slaying an evil ogre-like mass. I imagined giant fists knocking the bejeebers out of a big black splotch, and other such heroes doing good deeds, and I visualized little cancer cells sizzling to their doom in a hot frying pan. None of those really provided me with the focus I needed to keep on fighting instead of feeling sorry for myself, because they weren’t a source of personal inspiration.
To find the fight within I had to come up with a hero that really meant something to me, and I did. Long ago I collected unicorns, and as a result my parents had given me a brass unicorn statue. Unicorn folklore says that they can neutralize poison and restore health with their horns, and so I mentally turned my brass unicorn into a shiny, glowing, beautiful white unicorn of absolute purity with an insanely beautiful long flowing mane who stabs the bad blotches with his horn, and then healthy pink tissue swirls and coats the entire throat (what an imagination!) I pictured it in my mind over and over again until I could feel the strength and the fight welling up inside me. I’m certain that’s one of the reasons why I beat the odds. That’s why I chose that specific brass unicorn (now colourized) as the symbol for my blog banner. I’ll bet my parents didn’t know at the time what an amazing gift they would be giving me.
I wasn’t alone in my struggle to get motivated either — my family got in on the act. My family paid us a visit shortly after finding out the bad news, and they brought me a gift of a bracelet. But it was definitely not an ordinary bracelet. It had a powerful message inscribed on it: f*** cancer. My youngest sister encouraged me to say “GRRRR” with gusto when I wore the bracelet. I proudly wore that bracelet to work before I started treatments, and if anybody noticed what it said, they didn’t complain. They understood.
Also, my mom had given me and my sisters each a souvenir from a trip to a museum in Ottawa — it was a simple “Rosie the Riveter” potholder with the phrase “we can do it” on it. My twin sister asked me to display it on my fridge door and she did the same with hers. Actually, she forced me to do it and made me send a picture of it to prove that I did. It was there to remind me daily that I wasn’t alone, and that all of my family was behind and beside me in my fight.
Maybe a rousing or uplifting song is more your style. I personally had two favourites. One I enjoyed before and during my treatment, which was “You haven’t seen the last of me” by Cher. I was moved to tears every time I heard it and it gave me goosebumps. Now that I’m post-treatment, my current favourite is “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Radiation took its toll and so my voice isn’t the same that it used to be and it croaks and cracks when I try to hit some of the notes, but I still try to belt it out when I’m in the car alone 🙂
As the saying roughly goes, you can’t make a new beginning but you can change the ending, and I was determined to sculpt out my own ending through drive and determination. What fuels your fire?
Next time: Financial aspects of cancer.