Having Cancer is Like Learning to Swim.


 photo credit: Google Image

When you’re learning to swim, you’ll learn a few things real fast.

Don’t fight the water. Lean into it. 

  • If you fight it, you’ll certainly drown. To float well, you must relax, even tilt your head back a bit. If you kick about—you’re going down. With cancer I learned early on I had to get ahead of the fear. I had to tell cancer to go back to it’s nothingness. Disclaimer: By saying I got ahead of the fear “early on” is not intended to sound like I walked out of the doctor’s office with composure. (Well, actually I did walk out of the office with composure, but as soon as my foot hit the hallway I had the big, loud, messy melt-down!)

Trust no one around you will let you drown.

  • You’ll flail your arms, your head will bob up and down, and some days those on whom you rely won’t be available. Even so,  you will be safe and provided for. I had a neighbor I didn’t know knock on my door saying she was going to the store. My medical team listened to me and my list of side effects, then made changes or suggestions accordingly. Support shows up even if it’s not from where you expect. Stay open. Don’t outline who will help, when and how. Know it’s working out to your advantage.

People on the pool deck are cheering you on.

  • People you don’t know will give you thumbs up, winks, verbal compliments, and physical help. Others you don’t know but have seen will start conversations where before they felt no need. Some friends and family show support by gifting, sending cards, or doing acts of service like running errands, cooking, or staying with you during or after chemo and surgeries. People do want you to succeed. They are rooting for you!

There’s an ice cream bar waiting for you when you get out of the pool.

  • It’s okay to use “water wings” (anything to help you through the cancer experience.) Listen to your swim instructors (medical team, and spiritual inspirations.) You’re all suiting up, but you’re the one in the water. Metaphysically, water symbolizes consciousness. When I was first diagnosed, I had a scene appear to me during meditation. I was swimming across a river. Half way across, the water got extremely rough, tossing me about. During this meditation I felt, and on an energetic level heard  the words, Trust. Float. Not much later another image came during meditation. Again, I was in the water floating, leaning my head back into large white wings, as if they were my swimming instructor’s hands. (Remember how well you leaned your head back into your swim instructor’s hands? Trusting? Floating?) What better instructor to trust than big white wings? The part I find most amazing is that for most my life, swimming was not enjoyable, and was a source of fear for me, not comfort. Here I was, pulling strength and peace from water images.

Trust. Float. It became my mantra. Half way through chemo, I realized the meditation from weeks previous was spot-on. I knew I’d get to the other side of this storm if I continued, without wavering. Trust. Float. Trust. Float.  Ultimately, I made it to the other side. So will you.

What helps you get across the stormy waters?

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