Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Importantly, whether in the midst of a disease battle, or after the medical field has done all that they can possibly do for you, the bottom line is to get up and keep trying.
Hiking caused me to spread my wings, this was a completely different challenge for me; I was not a physical/athletic sort before taking on the tests of hiking. Despite my other physical problems, perseverance, commitment, and focus were developed and forefront on my mind. Through each demanding, physical challenge in each of the wildernesses that I faced, one of the surprising benefits was finding acceptance in the person that I had become. I’m living, not just existing. I have new goals and new purpose.
In my books I briefly describe several life threatening situations that I’ve been through. I have been given so many “second chances”; I’m ashamed to say that it hadn’t been until this last one that I began to actually do something with it, rather than take it for granted. It’s an ongoing journey, an ongoing chance to love, share, give, accept, and to change. The unique opportunities, experiencing, encountering, hearing, smelling, documenting, collecting. Even during the threatening times, the terror, the confusion, the pain, the weak physical body, the cold; I’m alive to subsist, to endure it all. The good and the bad, the mistakes and the good undertakings, it’s what makes life, life.
Whether your “Survival Skills” are enduring chemo, wilderness exploring, stress management on the job, or just getting yourself up out of bed today to brave your individual battlefield, they are all excellent accomplishments. But until we broaden the parameters of those techniques with faith in God, they’re just techniques with limitations.
During and after 2 battles with cancer, my mindset needed to change dramatically.The cancer diagnosis was a gut-punch that caused me to take a staggering step back with strong introspection. That, and it’s a big world out there; it’s about time I take a good look at some of it. Even though I traveled quite a bit for my job as a contract manager, and was privileged to witness fabulous scenery in many of our states, I didn’t take the time to actually experience them.
I also felt I needed to take a good look at my past, so I began to document. To journal the fun, funny and infamous moments with my children and family, should I not defeat this intimidating disease. Without warning, once I opened that door to distant memories, nagging, accusing regret-memories came bursting through, nearly leveling me into a no-return depression. Why wasn’t I a better mother, I could have done this differently, I could have …
Urgently I needed to change my outlook and focus not only on health and healing but on the future, that I have a future.
It became necessary for me to experience the magnificence of the forests, to experience our native creatures, to experience my relationships at a new level and not only to experience the challenges oppressing and threatening me but to conquer and defeat them. Maybe subconsciously I was running away from my tenuous mortality, from my feelings of “mother-inadequacy” (Show me a mother who doesn’t feel like she could have done better!) but the end result was that I was physically active. I was also able to share many of my hikes with my sons; bonding at a novel level. Plus, for me, exercise at home or at a gym is flat-out boring.
Hiking was undeniably difficult in the beginning, but the more I explored and the more I experienced my treks, I was also getting into shape while I was clearing my mind of negativity, de-stressing and replacing it with life and appreciation. The Lord guided me through changing my mindset and I accepted. I had gone through the grieving phases of my probable death and now needed to get past the acceptance of death.
I literally stopped preparing for my death.
My mindset had to be beyond survival, I needed to be more than a conqueror; I was confronted to live-out my faith and believe the bible’s words. I’m now equipped, through His guidance, through His Son, to climb the mountains and journey the valleys that life throws at me. The more I exercise and utilize the skills and talents He has given me, and the practical skills learned in the wilderness leadership classes, the better I’m living my life for Him and changing my attitude.
Having had cancer is nearly insignificant to me now (other than the Lord’s interventions) and certainly isn’t a “prerequisite” of sorts for feet hitting the dirt trail. Rather, as someone summed it up for me:
Cancer is nothing more than a new trail.
I like that.