When I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I was stunned.
Then came the questions. Usually, the middle of the night is when I find myself thinking about this cancer and why it happened. It's not, "Why me?" Not at all. It's more, "What did I do or not do that caused this?"
I remember talking to a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was really beating herself up about it. She lamented that she hadn't eaten healthier food, that she hadn't exercised more or stayed away from stress, or slept for eight hours each night.
And I (wisely) said, "It's not your fault. It just happened. Or if there were things that contributed to it, that was then, and this is now. Forget it. What you do from here on is all that matters."
Wondering what caused my esophageal cancer
This is my second cancer diagnosis, and I can't help but remember that old saying:" Cheat me once, shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me. "
Do I have cancer because I smoked when I was younger? Is it because I don't eat healthy enough? Is it because I allowed myself to go through some very stressful years? Is it because I didn't exercise enough? Is it because I didn't get my acid reflux checked out when I first experienced it?
It's a fine line I walk between, "You screwed up, Mary, and you need to fix this," and, "There is nothing I did or can do." But I do believe the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Whether or not I could have prevented this with healthier living through the years isn't relevant (except to any young people reading this who might want to think about it). It remains to be seen whether or not my visualization, prayer, positive attitude, exercise, meditation, healthy eating (apple crisp for breakfast?) etc. will determine my outcome.
It's all a part of the pie
What I really believe is that everything counts. What we do, what we don't do, what we think, what we believe. Everything is a piece of the pie. If I get well, I will have had a part in that healing, and if I don't get well, I will have had a part in that, too. But just a part.
So much is beyond our understanding. Whether we understand or not, my job is to not look back, but to look forward, and put one foot in front of the other, grateful for each day.