Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nothing to Fear

Maria Yakunchikova "Fear" 1893-95Image via Wikipedia
It's weird to think that I have lived a life full of illnesses and health problems that other people fear.

Living this kind of life, I have come to equate the word fear with the words decision and risk. You see, when things get really scary, it usually means that I have a decision to make or a risk I must consider taking. Somehow I have always found the courage to make all those tough decisions and take those imposing risks.

Perhaps it is because, before my life with illness began at 22, I was already well on my way to developing the skill of stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks.

I moved out of my parents house at 18.

I figured out how to go to college, work and support myself all at the same time.

Living in the dorms my first two years of college, surrounded by new people, I tried lots of new things: music, points-of-view, food, clothes, perspectives, cultures and experiences.

I asked boys out on dates instead of waiting around for them to ask me.

By 22, I had made lots of decisions and lots of mistakes, many of which provided valuable lessons.

Some might say that I was courageous in the face of fear because I was diagnosed with cancer and went through eight months of chemotherapy to beat it. Perhaps I was, but I don't remember it that way. Because once I heard the word cancer and the path of treatment was laid before me, I knew I had no choice but to go in that direction.

It wasn't until after my cancer treatment that I truly faced my fears. And there were so many things to be fearful of:

I was scared when I returned to my college studies, knowing that all my friends had graduated and moved on without me.

I was scared about living a life with viral hepatitis, knowing that future health problems might be lurking around the corner.

I was scared that boys wouldn't find me attractive any more, since my cancer treatment made me unable to have children.

I was scared that being a cancer survivor would make it harder to make new friends to replace all the ones that I lost during my cancer experience.

I was scared about spending the next five years waiting to find out if my cancer would be cured or if it would return.

Looking back, I see the courage it took to start my life over again after I had cancer. I see how many decisions I made and risks I took to overcome my fears. Most of all, I see how confronting my fears and taking these risks paid off.

Here now today, I acknowledge that these past six years of living with chronic, disabling illnesses have been a new and difficult chapter in my life. There have been many scary moments, full of fears about what impact chronic illness would have on my life and how I would have to change and adapt to my new circumstances. Once again, there have been many decisions to make and risks to take.

Through it all, I have been constantly amazed at how things seem to work themselves out. The more I deal with life and it's uncertainties, the more I realize that there is nothing to fear. There is nothing to fear because, in the end, I will be O.K. As long as I do my part, by taking risks and making decisions, the Universe will take care of me.

I just need to keep feeling the fear and living my life anyway.

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Emily said...

I didn't know your history with cancer, Selena, wow! To me you are very courageous and inspiring.

I still fear getting new illnesses even though Lupus is a pretty serious one. I have to say I do fear getting cancer, it is my number one as far as illnesses go.

So glad you made it to let me read this post today.

Robyn said...

great post. as for this part: "I just need to keep feeling the fear and living my life anyway."

have you read the book "feel the fear and do it anyway"? that line, for obvious reasons, reminded me of the book, as did your outlook. if you haven't read the book, you might find it interesting! and if you have, feel comfort that you seem to have internalized the lessons from it and are living it :)

Duby said...

wow! very inspiring post ... you really are a courageous person! thank you for sharing that part of your life with us.