This year I am enduring a long course of chemotherapy for breast cancer, with two more phases of treatment to go. I do this in the company of over 250,000 women in the US alone. Enduring implies undergoing a hardship, especially without giving in.
Throughout this, I have persevered. Perseverance is about persisting in spite of counter influences, discouragement or opposition. I’ve had the vision, strength, hope, and commitment to actively participate in my own treatment and recovery, and to continue showing up for family, friends, work and community throughout. I’ve made adaptations and adjustments in order to do that.
Maybe some of this resilience comes from within. Much of it comes from the good fortune and great love that surround and protect me. A major part of the good fortune is that the cancer is in a pretty early stage, and is a well known and readily treatable form of the disease. Not everyone is so fortunate.
From the start, shocked and scared as I was, I was also sure that I’d ultimately be fine.This helped me take, and keep taking, steps to ensure that my certainty would be realized. It kept me going on even the roughest days, and I have had some of those. There are probably more ahead, which is something I need to be prepared for. Knowing there is much wonder, beauty, joy, fu, love and creativity now and in the future helps me get ready to face any struggles that await.
Persevering through a challenge like this is a DIT (Do it Together) project, as Jeffrey Davis, leader of our Quest2017 group says. I want to give a shout out to the people who have lent me the strength, love, patience and joy that have helped so much. You all know who you are. You have made all the difference.
This experience with a serious health challenge gives me guidance for persevering through our country’s profound and difficult post-election political and social changes. It shows me the ingredients needed for perseverance: positive vision; empowering myself through focused action related to that vision; acknowledgement of negative feelings; using those feelings as motivation for taking needed steps for self-care and protection; reaching out to and connecting with others; accepting help; staying engaged in all of life as much as possible; letting go of some activities to make room for new ones; permitting myself time for rest and renewal; noticing and treasuring signs of hope; finding laughter. One more thing, persevering isn’t about persisting despite all odds. Sometimes you have to change course, switch strategies and establish new goals.
What have you learned about perseverance that you continue to use when faced with a new challenge?
Resources To Help You Persevere
I’ve found each of these to be a great help. Let me know if you have other useful resources, and what you think of these.
Karin Marcus: Birding Through Cancer, A Seasons of Change Journey. This inspirational memoir takes you on one woman’s journey weathering a frightening diagnosis by immersing herself in nature. She shares the Seasons of Change model as a guide for navigating change and describes how she drew important lessons from nature as she underwent treatment.
Cheryl Richards: The Art of Extreme Self-Care. Twelve strategies for transforming your life through extreme self-care. It’s written for a general audience.
Gerald M. LeMole, MD, Pallav K. Mehta, MD, & Dwight L. McKee, MD: After Cancer Care. A self-care guide to getting and staying well after cancer. It supports perseverance by providing guidance in what survivors can do in terms of nutrition, exercise and stress reduction strategies that support well-being and reduce risk of recurrence.
Mirah Curzer: How to Stay Outraged Without Losing Your Mind. Self-care lessons for the resistance. Part of perseverance in difficult times is remembering self-care.
Britt Bravo: How to Work With Fear In These Times. Britt’s ideas support perseverance by countering the effects that fear can have on our health and well-being. Britt, writer, editor, teacher and mentor, is the founder of Big Vision Consulting. She includes a list of relevant posts (including the one I shared here).
Sarah Trimmer: Start and End Happy. Sarah supports our ability to persevere with a technique she developed to strengthen happiness and mental strength,.
Kelly Indra Inselman: Free Yourself From Agitation is a meditation to promote calm, healing, rest and better sleep. Created for cancer survivors and useful for others experiencing anxiety or agitation. She vlogs weekly, with meditations to calm and reduce stress.
Krista Tippett and John Lewis: Love in Action: John Lewis talks about his experiences in Selma on Bloody Sunday, and how they might inform us today.