Sunday, March 13, 2011

Earthquakes, tsunami, Cancer

The news brings us coverage of disasters as they happen these days. We are able, through television, You Tube, Facebook and the Internet, watch with frightening immediacy as others thousands of miles away lose their lives in an instant. I wonder if the availability of these technologies simply numb us to the realities. Or do the make us feel so helpless, that out of a kind of self preservation, we become desensitised to the reality of what we are seeing. After all you can't stop a tsunami that is happening before you eyes in Japan. You can't reach down into the ground to calm the earth saying "there there... shhhhh." In the face of these natural disasters we can feel quite impotent.

Here is a country who is quite prepared for earthquakes. They have been a head of the curve simply because they experience so many of them. But even those most prepare of us can be surprised by what we left undone. Their Nuclear power plants have back up measures, but sometimes even your backup isn't good enough.

Breast Cancer is a different kind of disaster. But there are many similarities. Even the most prepared person, the one who eats well, exercises, hasn't taken hormones and avoids over indulgence of any kind, might get the call one day that they have Cancer. To them, like it was for me, it is a moment of helplessness but it should never be a moment of hopelessness.

My sister Debi has a good friend in Japan who is very very scared right now. Obviously justifiably. I was "chatting " with Debi last night. And I told her to tell her friend what I learned in facing my own crisis. It is very important to know where you are at any one moment. Take a look at the step in front of you, but don't forget to look for the horizon. When we are the most frightened you have to find a way to look beyond and realize this will pass.

When I got the diagnosis 16 years ago, I had a very full life. Two little girls, a husband I loved and adored, I was PTA President and heavily involved in local affairs I was busy. Then it all stopped in an instant. It was all I could do, but just get up and think about what I had to do that day. My focus drew inward and only extended to what was on that day's calendar for treatment. This was a time of shock and fear. It isn't until you can look at the far horizon and see yourself moving towards a future, that you can move beyond the fear.

Those people in Japan cannot do that right now. I am sure it is as much as they can do to get up and see what they need to deal with today. My heart goes out to them. But I know, and I hope they do too, there is a brighter light on the horizon. They will get through this. There will be lessons learned. We will never be able to stop horrible things from happening, but we can help support those who are having to live through those times.

But as to Cancer, there IS something we can do about that. We can find a cure to Cancer. We can stop this from happening in the future. So as helpless as we may feel in the face of a tsunami, that should be as hopeful as we feel about finding an end to Cancer. Sometimes I feel people have been overexposed to Cancer awareness the efforts to raise funds to find a cure. Sometimes the surely are acting like people who don't care. But then I think back and remember the people around my Mother when she had Cancer and the individual ways they dealt with it. Many simply disappeared. They couldn't handle that feeling of being helpless. Or perhaps it reminded them, that they too could face Cancer in their lives and it frightened them frozen.

To anyone who feel this way about Cancer, or any other catastrophe I have found something that helps. Doing something about it. Taking a step forward away from fear and into action.

Try it ...