Affirmation: What doesn't kill me makes me stronger and being stronger makes life easier and richer.
"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, stronger" so goes the saying and the now popular song by Kelly Clarkson. I wonder would I want to be tested to the point of dying to become stronger? I have been tested by breast cancer. I wouldn't have chosen it but it has made me stronger. It seems like a given that most people believe becoming stronger is a good thing.
I do work at being physically strong. I fully recognize the advantages of having a strong body. Besides practicing Yoga regularly, twice a week I participate in a class called Rep-Reebok. It’s weight lifting to music and since I began it, I do feel I’ve gained quite a bit of muscle. I’m not so concerned about how it affects my shape but I know the stronger I am, the less likely I am to injure myself. Having physical strength makes my daily activities easier. I also work at having mental and spiritual fortitude. It makes my whole existence easier.
Sherri Shepherd recently released a book entitled Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes. Presently she's one of the talk show hostesses on The View. She's very funny and she's always been a very large lady, actually the word is obese. She was interviewed by Doctor Oz this week and shared the diabetic history of her family. She said they called it "the sugar" and no one took any steps to deal with it, regardless of how much the disease had progressed. She too was guilty of the same behavior. Denial is the term for the way some people deal with situations they don't want to face. She was in denial until someone asked her in so many words if she was ready to die one amputation at a time. She changed her life. She took charge. She changed her diet and began exercising. She changed a lIfe threatening situation into a life enhancing practice. She shared some of her new healthy eating techniques and said she now works out at a gym and has turned her home into a gym, not a fancy room with all the bells and whistles. The stairs are her "stair-master." Her kitchen sink is her "ballet bare" and she never rests her bottom on the toilette. That's her opportunity to do squats! Diabetes changed her life, for the better.
The conversation I had with a woman I had recently met revolved around her brother's recovery from drug abuse. He too had a devastating disease. He too had taken steps to become healthy. When speaking about his life, she shared that he had become a wonderful father. He was raising his son by himself. The mother was also an addict and had given up her son. He had shared with his sister that the challenge of being a single parent was his greatest blessing. His life was as good as it was because his son needed him and helped him rise to the challenge of creating a healthy, loving life.
It's an old saying, "We can choose to make lemons into lemonade." Life is full of adversity, all different levels. Diseases of the mind, body and spirit are faced by all of us at sometime or another. Where do we find the resources to lift ourselves from the darkness back into the light? For many, it's their faith but not everyone has that gift. It is a gift to believe in a loving, beneficent God or at least to believe that our pain is serving some higher purpose. We all have pain. Others must find another way to rise above their adversity. For most help comes in the form of others: family, friends and community.
This second of week of May, 2013 the media has been full of news about Angelina Jolie and her choice to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. It's not an unusual story. It's a decision thousands of women have faced and many of whom have chosen the same path. Angelia's mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when her mother was in her forties. She died at 55. She decided to undergo the gene test to see if it was indeed a hereditary condition and it came back positive. She had an 87% chance of dying of breast cancer. She chose not to wait for fate to decide her future. She chose to take radical steps to insure that she would not have the words "breast cancer" on her death certificate. Her popularity, perhaps we could even say notoriety, propelled her decision to the front of the news. I personally commend her for making her decision public. It opens the avenue for important discussions. It's similar to when Betty Ford stepped forward as First Lady and shared she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. We sometimes need celebrities to she'd light on issues that might otherwise go unexamined.
How can one see a prophylactic double mastectomy as a blessing? How easy it would be to perceive oneself as a victim. How easy it would be to wallow in self pity. Brad Pitt, Angelina's fiancé told the media they didn't view her surgery as a loss. They viewed it as a gain; they had gained years of life. They believed his wife and the mother of their children would now be a part of their lives for many years to come.