Fear: The Universal Experience
I have read so many articles written by cancer patients, survivors, and fighters. Name a cancer, and I have read stories and perspectives of those who are in the midst of treatment or remission or drug trials. I have chatted with the newly diagnosed and have sat with those who have reached end-of-life care.
I have had the honor of being involved with more cancer patients than any other demographic I have ever been around. One immutable truth I have learned. One absolute I have experienced and heard and felt is FEAR!
Every person with cancer has felt fear
Concern, paranoia, worry, anxiety, angst, call it what you will. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, the one absolute that every cancer patient I have ever met is, has and will go through is FEAR.
I would love to be able to stop here and say the gut-wrenching fear will pass. If I did that, every person who has ever had or loved someone with cancer would scream, “BS” and call for my immediate beheading. Fear on some level is our shared new normal. Deny it. Go ahead, I double-dog dare you!
Fear is always lurking
It may not be constant but it is always on the fringe. It waits in the shadows for a moment of weakness or inattention and then, BAM! Like a puma on a rabbit, it strikes and all you can do is whimper. Any new ache or pain. A scheduled scan or test. Pretty much anything involving a doctor and the fear can consume us. More tired than usual? What does that mean? Lose weight? Cancer must be back.
Any normal life change or happening is vastly different post-diagnosis. Things that never meant anything pre-cancer now mean something dire. This may sound daunting, and it can be. It can also be assuring.
We are not alone
Our fears are not ours alone. Our concerns are shared with millions. Whenever we wake up with a terror about what may happen, we can take a breath and know that we are part of a worldwide family. A family of people who share similar fears and continue living. When the fear comes, you are never ever, ever never alone. You are part of a family, and we are a part of you.
Without exception, every person who has ever heard those three words, “You have cancer” has felt the fears you and I feel. This is the “Universal Experience.” We have all thought about the endless sea of outcomes and possibilities. There is tremendous power in a shared experience.
Anyone can get cancer
Cancer is the universal experience. It has no respect for status or income. No thought to race, creed or religious affiliation. Age is meaningless, as is gender or orientation. If you are breathing, you can be a part of the family. There may be things that increase your exposure but in the end, either you join the family or know someone who has joined.
Fear does not own us
Fear does not define me, it is something I experience, not something I am. It comes and goes, like a boil on my backside. Every now and then I have to have it lanced so it will drain off. If you are in the grips of fear as you read this, I offer a hug and a shoulder to cry upon. Fear is universal. It may well be a part of our shared new normal. That said, fear does not own us or define us! We can acknowledge that it is present and move through it.
We are stronger than any fear cancer can bring forward. We are stronger!