I have not posted in this blog for quite some time. As I approached the one year anniversary of my first clear scan, I found it challenging to take the time to reflect back on my active treatment and recovery period. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know I’ve been here before. Over the past couple of months, I simply did not want to relive my cancer experience which I must do each time I sit down to write a post. The truth is I just wanted to move on.
I knew I had to get back to working on this blog. But I needed to dig deep for the motivation to do so. And I needed to remove any barriers to my writing about and sharing my experience. To do, I need to get back to “why” I was doing this.
I had been writing my posts chronologically, relating my journey and lessons learned sequentially. I wondered if staying true to the timeline may have contributed to my loss of focus in writing new posts. And so, I decided I would free myself from the self-imposed adherence to strict chronological story telling. While I would continue to provide historical context and describe the stage of my journey, as I resumed writing I would allow myself to address thematic topics that transcend specific dates and times. This flexibility would help. But would it be enough to get me re-motivated to work on my blog. No, it would not. Doing so would require me to recall “why” it was so important.
While I was going through the diagnosis stage, the evaluation of options, and actual treatment and recovery, I had continually thought about the opportunity I would have to help others because of my experience. It was one of the most powerful things that kept me positive and optimistic even when I was in excruciating pain and my body was being ravaged by the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. It gave me a sense of purpose. I knew that I had to win, and that I would win the battle so I could be helpful to others.
People ask me now if I was afraid that I would not survive. Whenever the thought arose that I might not beat the cancer, I would bat it away. I quickly replaced it would a different thought. I believed deeply that my cancer would give me the perspective, credibility and, indeed, the right to offer advice, suggestions and recommendations to others going through similar circumstances. Without going through this very different journey I would be unable to do so. That belief persisted through the toughest times. As I started working on this post, I was fully connected with that belief.
When bad things happen to you or your loved ones, it is common to ask “why?” or “why me?” questions. These can be tortuous questions. In my life, I have found that it is important and beneficial to change the questions so as not to be consumed by them. For me it was asking “what blessings can come from this experience?” I needed to attach meaning to what I was going through. As I have shared before, I latched on to the belief that my cancer battle would allow me to help in ways that would only be possible because of my personal experience.
It wasn’t just a passing thought. And it wasn’t just a recognition of the potential opportunity. Instead, it was a strong sense of duty and obligation to share what I was learning, which in turn gave me confidence that I would win the battle. Over the past few weeks, I recalled that belief and the state of mind that had initially driven me to share my experience. I knew I needed reconnect with the meaning I had previously attached to writing this blog.
Have you read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl? I am sure that many of you are at least familiar with the title, the author, or its core message. This influential book chronicles Frankl’s experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II, and describes how he used a sense of purpose to help him survive the ordeal. According to Frankl, the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity. Frankl focused his on the belief that by surviving he would be able to tell the world what happened so that it would never happen again.
Frankl outlined a psychotherapy method he called logotherapy. Logotherapy is based upon the belief that striving to find meaning in life is the primary, indeed the most powerful, motivating and driving force in human beings.. (Other methods are based on the belief that power or pleasure are the drivers of human behavior.)
Now please know that I do not equate my cancer battle with anything as bad as what Frankl endured as a concentration camp prisoner. Not even close. And, I did not consciously think about Frankl, his book, or logotherapy at the time of my diagnosis, treatment or recovery. But as Frankl’s theory would suggest, I did identify a purpose to feel positively about, and then imagined the outcome it would bring. I remember thinking that I might write a book to share my experience and lessons learned. Soon after my first clear scan, exactly one year ago, I decided that a blog would be more efficient and more effective, and a faster way to share my experiences. A book could always follow the blog, leveraging the collection of posts that would accrue.
I attribute my determination and positive attitude during my treatment and recovery, at least in part, to the sense of positive purpose I had created. I still feel a sense of obligation to be true to that purpose. I now need to follow through in order to demonstrate my gratitude for the outcome that holding that purpose helped to achieve.
I have missed working on this blog. But I am still working on renewing my “why”. I lost momentum and my motivation because I lost sight of that why. I will get back to sharing my story and the lessons I learned.
I appreciate your encouragement.