“You have Thyroid Cancer” I was told one day late October 2002. This was another “thing” in a string of experiences of adversity. It was a year of financial challenges. My brother was diagnosed with Lymphoma a couple of months earlier. My landlord decided to sell the property I was living in at the time of year when university students were madly grabbing all the rental properties available before the Fall Semester. A rental arrangement I made fell through a week before I needed to be out of my place and I didn’t secure a new apartment until 45 minutes before I had to pick up my moving truck on the day I needed to be out of my old place. Four days later I was in the hospital having a lump removed from my neck. I was told by the surgeon that she suspected it was cancer.
The day the surgeon confirmed I had cancer, I remember asking if I could wait until after Christmas for the surgery. She was amazed at how unfazed I was by her news. I already read about Thyroid Cancer before my appointment and knew it was a relatively easy cancer to treat and it wasn’t anything like what my brother was dealing with. When I got home, I received a collection notice for a utility bill from my previous residence that needed to be paid immediately. That’s when I broke down and cried.
After sharing my news with my parents, and having them offer to help me in whatever way I needed to get through this, I started to ask questions. Often when a person is faced with challenging times like this the question “Why me?” comes up. I consciously chose not to ask that question. Instead I asked, “What is it I am supposed to learn from this experience?” and “How can I use this experience to grow as a person?”
I couldn’t change what was happening to me. What I could control was how I chose to respond to it. Surrendering and asking different questions opened the door for me to receive some amazing gifts through this time. I allowed the people in my life to care for me. It was a gift for them to have the opportunity to help someone that needed them and a gift for me to receive their care.
One week before I had surgery to remove my thyroid gland and most of the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck, the team of people I had working with me at the time, rallied together to help me earn a promotion. They were inspired by my strength and it helped them to further themselves in the process. During my surgery, my older brother and his family looked after my dog for me so I didn’t need to worry about her. My parents looked after me for a week after my surgery. When I went home, a group of people from my church arranged to bring me meals for a week or two until I was feeling strong enough to manage that on my own. My other siblings helped me out in other ways.
I am in no way minimizing the adversity we face in our lives. I have been through divorce. I have lost two siblings. Many of you reading this will have experienced things far worse – terminal illness, financial hardship, loss of loved ones, divorce, abuse, addiction, war, poverty, etc. Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel. Grieve. Grieve deeply if that is where you need to go. Get angry. Cry. Maybe I will talk more about grieving in another blog posting, because it is too big to get into here.
Love and honor yourself and the people around you. How do you see the circumstances you are facing? What gifts can you find? What questions are you asking?
I have learned through my own experiences that eventually we get through the valleys, and when we are open to it, find something beautiful on the other side of adversity.
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Leah Schroeder is a Reiki Practitioner www.lifeforcehealingservices.ca and Financial Advisor. “I was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. For most of my 46 years this has been and currently is the place I call home. I have been working as a Financial Advisor for the past 15 years educating people about their finances, helping them restructure and reduce debt, invest for the future and properly protect their families. A strong sense that there is something more I am supposed to do in the world, a fascination with energy and a series of intuitive nudges has led me to begin practising Reiki. I have a desire to learn and practise other healing modalities, as well as serve children and empower young women around the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and stories with you.”