Cancer Stands Change - Transformation for Recovery


Transformation for Recovery
Cancer is an opportunity to look in new directions and gain deeper insights about personal power. Keep searching. Be a seeker. 


Healing starts with your inner shift

People facing cancer often find themselves facing the possibility of their own death. At first, some people focus on dying from cancer instead of living with cancer. As one woman explained, just after she was diagnosed with lung cancer she isolated herself from her family and spent a lot of time alone in her room. Before long, she realized the cancer wasn’t going to go away on its own. She decided that she could either keep pulling the covers over her head or she could tackle cancer the way she did other challenges. This adjustment in thinking takes time.


The healing path can be a long and winding road, one which travels up the mountainside, sometimes into slippery territory, sometimes into dark crevasses, sometimes over very rocky terrain indeed. There will be times when you slip and fall and must go back and begin again. There will be times when your heart breaks with longing, times when you cry out in pain, but still the path is there and the climb is within your grasp.

Kabat-Zinn describes our usually encumbered minds as often preoccupied with regrets over the past and worry and anxiety over the future. This can be particularly true when we are suffering an illness such as cancer. Our minds become literally flooded with worries, fears, fantasies, and plans related to our diagnosis, treatments, and the possible course of the disease. The result is that we live in a state of unawareness, or un-mindfulness. 
Self-responsibility and self-care are essential for people affected by cancer.
What does that mean to you?

How do you advocate for yourself?

How do you proactively take responsibility for your well-being?

How do you empower yourself?

What actions enable you to feel your own innate power?

How do you strengthen your body, mind, and spirit?

       How do you care for yourself daily? 



Turning Breakdown into Breakthroughs

When the winds of change blow across the land, dust may blow up before your eyes, making it difficult to find your way. Old ways may disappear and new ways need to be found. This is the time to move into faith, into a complete belief that guidance is there for you and that love still flows endlessly. The shelter from the winds of change is found only within each moment. It is not found in the old ways and the old plans. Clinging to what was and shedding tears over your dashed plans and hopes do certainly not find it. It is found in embracing what is by going completely into this moment and this moment only and seeking guidance here.


The focus here is on what you are breaking through in turbulent or unsettling times, events and experiences rather on what is breaking down in your life through the experience of having cancer.  This focus is central to  learning, conflict transformation and change in general. 

If your focus is on the breaking down, you fail to recognise and appreciate the disorientation, chaotic, or disturbing nature of breakthroughs and stages of transitions. It is understandable that you feel that everything in your life is breaking down, that your life as you knew it is falling apart, but this situation has the potential for a breakthrough to a new higher level of understanding of yourself. 


The journey through cancer can take you well outside our familiar mindsets and comfort zone.

Breakthroughs often begin to occur when your current beliefs, ways of making meaning or behaving is no longer sufficient for the complexity of the challenges you are facing when dealing with cancer.  There usually needs to be a readiness or a pressure to change before we engage in the transition and that can be brought about by our personal growth or sometimes by external circumstances.


 "The experience of transition or breakthrough can be likened to a turtle that has grown too big for its shell and has to discard it and grow another one.  Its shell will restrict the turtle's growth if it does not discard it. Yet discarding the shell in favour of growth leaves it in a most vulnerable state, for a time, before the interaction with the seawater firms up the new more ample shell. In going through a breakthrough or stage transition we usually feel vulnerable and exposed and this accounts for some of the reluctance to face these challenges.  The good news is that, like the turtle, we get better at them with practice".


It’s time to awake, to stand up, to stretch those tired, aching muscles and move. It is time to take the next step.

What’s holding you back? What’s in your way? Are there external barriers? Are there internal ones, such as fear and doubt or laziness?

It’s time to shake off and overcome and break through the walls that stop you, that shut you down and prevent you from moving forward.

  • Are you still hanging on to that habit?

  • Are you caught in the eternal delay of procrastination?

  • Are you waiting for the perfect time to begin? For the weather to clear or the children to move out?

  • Are you waiting for a sign or a voice or a message to tell you the time is now?

Now is the ONLY time you have ever had. So get up and take that step. Just get up and do it.


  “But what if I fail?”

Every single day you don’t take action, you fail one moment, one day at a time, slowly strangling your dreams in the dark and hidden back-alleys of your fears and doubts. Day after day, your hopes bleed a little more, draining life from the muscle fiber of your passion.

So why not give it all you have for one HUGE potential fail and get it over with? Why drag out failure every single day of your life as you decide not to take action and let your dreams whither and dry … and die over and over again, a daily death of neglect?


Imagine if you don’t fail! Of course, you will stumble here and there, but with every stumble, your footing becomes that much surer. Yes, failure may hit hard. But will it hurt any less if you fail daily by your inaction, by self-inflicted suffocation?

Does one big fail hurt more than hundreds and hundreds of daily little failures that prick and stab at your heart?

No more self-afflicted blood-letting. No more leaking your life into the puddles of inaction one day after another. No more. Say that out loud: “No … more!” Say it with feeling: “NO … MORE!”


There’s more than one way to die, after all. We also die one breathe at a time as we refuse to exhale our passion onto the world and refuse to breath in the crisp air of our potential.

Have you been resting on a plateau? Have you fallen asleep in the afternoon of your life? Have you made progress, then sat down to enjoy your success, but forgot to stand back up again?


There is no such thing as failure - there is only living - living boldly. Living boldly is living with passionately.

There’s more than one way to die, after all. We also die one breathe at a time as we refuse to exhale our passion onto the world and refuse to breath in the crisp air of our potential. Besides, failure is nothing less than an investment in your own potential. If life is the university and experience is the classroom, then failure is the lesson being taught by the professor of life. It is the instruction. It is the heart and soul of the classroom.

What’s holding you back? What are your fears?

There is no failure. Set aside a regular time slot for your art. Make an appointment with yourself and by all means, Give Yourself Permission, to be bold, to create your life. What that next step is, is less important than that you take it, any step, so long as it takes you closer to your potential, closer to your dreams, closer to what courses through your veins with every beat of your heart. Once momentum is built, you will have plenty of time to figure out which steps are best and in which order they should be taken. But for now, just move.

Now is the time.

It doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a book you’ve always wanted to write. A business you always wanted to start. An instrument you wanted to play. A relationship you wanted to heal. A person you wanted to forgive. A trait you wanted to develop. Whatever it is, if it’s a worthy destination of itself, it’s worthy of your bare-knuckled action to get there.


The process of getting there is only one decision, one step, away. Just one.

Will you stand up or stay seated?

Will you wake up or sleep another day?

Will you take action or continue to wait and wish and age and regret?

The time is now. Stand up. Decide. Commit. Take that step.

There will always be another missing piece of the puzzle, another bit of vital information you simply must discover first before starting.


You know exactly what you’re doing. You know it’s just another way to keep yourself from taking the leap off the pier into the murky waters of “what if.” So stop pretending the next book or post or article you read will finally be the point after which you begin. You already know that’s a lie you tell yourself to stay on the grassy knoll of life, immobile, unchallenged, mediocre.


A Call to Boldness

This is not a call to abandon common sense or to live with reckless abandon to parental or other responsibilities. Rather, it’s a call to stop hiding behind fear and doubt and a litany of self-defeating excuses that bind you to a life lived somewhere south of your true potential and joy.

Stop the Excuses!

So stop making excuses. Avoid the regret that will stain the memory of your life as you look back on it. You were not made for mediocrity! So get up and take action!

Today may not be the fix. But today is the step. The first of many. You are not likely going to experience success in the next couple steps of your life. But you are going to step anyway because stepping is the ONLY way to get down that road. And in stepping, you have already succeeded by choosing to live, to truly and deeply come alive and live profoundly! And that, my friend, is not failure.


Today could be a good day to break with some long - established patterns of life.

There are some patterns, which no longer serve you, which undermine the direction you wish to have your life head at this time. And these patterns may have plagued your entire life. Let me explain this with the following poem(from the Tibetan Book of Death and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. Tibetan book of Death and Dying)


"This acclaimed spiritual masterpiece is widely regarded as one of the most complete and authoritative presentations of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings ever written. A manual for life and death and a magnificent source of sacred inspiration from the heart of the Tibetan tradition. The Tibetan Book Of Living and Dying provides a lucid and inspiring introduction to the practice of meditation, to the nature of mind, to karma and rebirth, to compassionate love and care for the dying, and to the trials and rewards of the spiritual path".)

This delightful and insightful story of the hole in the sidewalk provides a metaphor of life. Life is like a stroll down a somewhat hazardous sidewalk. The story identifies the key feature required to safely navigate life's sidewalk. Let’s read and discuss it chapter by chapter. 



Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

( A Walk to Wholeness) 



Life is a journey of learning from one chapter into another chapter. Ones we are able to understand and apply the real message of one chapter, we will move into the next one and learn the new lesson again. Step by step, all of those chapters will bring us into the end purpose of completion and perfection.


Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost .... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.


 Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.


Chapter one

"I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost .... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Thinking over this chapter, recall your journey down the sidewalk of life.

What has your experience been? What good times have you had?

Do you remember some of the difficult times?

Most importantly consider the question, "Have you ever fallen in to one of the holes in the sidewalk?"

Have you been minding you own business when the bottom fell out?

Have you suddenly found yourself in a pit of frustration, anger, anxiety, resentment, grief, or despair?

Have you confronted loss, change, and challenge that caught you by surprise and seemed out of your control?

Chapter One is sometimes true and tells us exactly how life is. Sometimes as you walk down the sidewalk of life you wind up in a deep hole that is not of your own making.

  • If you live on the coast during hurricane season the winds and rains may have come along and damaged your house.
  • The company you work for may have gone bankrupt you lost your job.
  • You return to your car in the mall parking lot and find that someone has smashed your fender.
  • You are diagnosed with a life threatening illness
  • The death of friend brings grief.

Any of these events can place you in a hole of darkness, despair, anger, loss, anxiety, worry, or grief. You did not have anything to do with creating the situation but you must live with it. The hole can indeed be deep and dark, and you have to struggle long and hard to climb out of it.

 This is the nature of life. Some things are out of your control. Unexpected events happen. Change always occurs. The most that you can do is adapt to them the best you can. You must struggle out of the hole into which you were thrown and journey on. Hopefully, you grow from such an experience and become a more mature person who is better able to cope with other pitfalls of life."


Chapter Two

"I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

With Chapter Two the question to consider is, "Have you ever found yourself in exactly the same hole more than once?"

Are you in exactly the same bad relationship (but with a different person) for the twentieth time? Are you starting to wonder how all of these jerks find you?

How is it that you always get into the same type of conflict with the boss? She is so negative and critical and always expects so much. She makes you feel miserable.
Maybe you are in the midst of the exact "word for word" argument with your spouse for the ten thousandth time. He says this and you say that just like you always do and you fall into the hole once again.
Your partner, spouse, son, mother, sister, or brother does that thing that they always do. It pushes your buttons and you respond as you always do. The cycle of conflict begins once again.

You cannot believe that it has happened one more time. You wonder, "Why does this always happen to me? Why do they always do this to me? When will they ever stop? Why can’t they understand what they make me do?" If other people would just "act right" life would go better. You begin to work harder and harder to get others to change."

Chapter Three

"I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately

Chapter Three challenges us to wake up. Fall into the same hole often enough and you may come to a realization. With the frequent occurrence of the same or similar events you sense that these things do not happen by chance. Maybe this repetition is a pattern that is not just inflicted on you solely by others. Such a re-occurrence of events must mean that you are playing a role in creating them.

As we go along the sidewalk of life we all fall into holes of psychological and spiritual distress. Sometimes it seems that we were shoved. Initially, it appears that it is not our fault to be in such a situation once again. However, as we continue in the journey of life we often find ourselves falling into the same hole more than once.

When we do so we are given the opportunity of recognizing that there is actually a pattern in our lives. Patterns do not exist until an event happens more than once. A pattern cannot be recognized until we have encountered a situation (in all its various forms) several times. Only with repetition is it possible to see the pattern or cycle. Once the pattern is seen then the possibility of new insight arises.

The next time you find yourself once again in one of life’s familiar holes, and are busy saying:

  • "It is not my fault,"
  • "Don't blame me."
  • "Who is responsible for this?"
  • "They are doing it to me again."

Call for a time-out.

Now, look to see how you might be responsible for your situation. Ask yourself, "What did I do to get here? What role did I play in creating the circumstances that placed me in this hole?" The terrible truth is that if you are not responsible for being in this hole once again then you are in real trouble.

This is because if you are not responsible, it must mean that someone is.

Maybe, it is not just one person but a group of people like your coworkers or your family. It is even possible that the entire world has decided to conspire against you. If you are truly not responsible for your current situation, and you do not like being in these recurring holes then you face a dilemma. What you have to do is find out who is making you miserable. Next, you have to change that person, or group, or the entire world to make it or them be exactly the way you want them to be so that you can be okay. Your strategy becomes to change others.

This is the trap of playing, "Let's fix you."

Husbands and wives and parents and children often play this game. One spouse shows up at the counselor's office claiming that their mate is the problem. Parents bring in the child saying the child's behavior needs to change. Children say that their parents make them act this way. Employees blame the insensitive boss. The overworked boss criticizes the inefficient employees. No one is responsible for anything.

Playing "Let’s fix you" doesn’t work.

Have you ever tried to change someone? Of course you have. Maybe just change a small child making them just a little more the way you want. Perhaps you have tried to make a few minor adjustments in another person’s personality.

It seems that if you just gave this person a little bit of a "tune up" then you might be able to live with them. Did you succeed? The answer is, "No!" Changing others is an extremely difficult if not impossible task. The other person may actually try to cooperate but often cannot make or sustain the change. Your effort is directed in the wrong direction.

Fall into the same hole enough times and you might awaken to the true nature of the problem. You are responsible for being there. You played some role in the process. You must change.

Learning this is good news.

If you can find out what you are doing and stop then you can avoid these holes into which you keep falling. Having some responsibility for your problems means that you have control. All you have to do is to change yourself and the situation can improve. While this task is very hard, it is at least possible. Changing others is not.

  • When you find yourself once again in that same bad relationship, but with a different person, you need to realize that it is you who is making the same mistake over and over. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, "What am I doing?" "How did I get here once again?"
  • When you are in that same tired old argument, ask what did you do to get there? When you wake up with a hangover once again, ask what went wrong with my resolve to never drink again?

When you discover what you are doing, or why you are doing it, then change is possible. You can begin taking responsibility for yourself.

If you change yourself your experience of the situation will change.
Surprisingly, if you do this, the other people you were wanting to change may change as well. You cannot change others by directly trying to influence them, but if you change yourself then they may be forced to change as well.

Once you are different and can maintain that difference then others around you are given the opportunity to change in relation to you. By effectively changing ourselves we may actually change another person, a group, and perhaps, the world. But we must start with ourselves. When you start with yourself a good place to begin is with your attitude ( how you respond to a life situation, i. e. illness)"


Chapter Four

"I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Four is indeed a new chapter in your life. Once your responsibility is seen you can change. You can begin avoiding the holes on that street of life. You are now able to see what is coming, because you know your pattern. This knowledge gives you control and you can intentionally respond to life in a different manner.

A different response gives new possibilities. When someone invites you into a familiar hole, you do not automatically enter. Your friend, who has been awaiting your arrival to leave for a party, sarcastically says, "Well, you are late again!" Your typical response is to defensively say, "Must you always complain?" Now when you see that familiar hole of an argument and a bad evening looming, you make a different choice.

You realize that your friend has had the legitimate frustration of waiting and has also been worried about you. You speak to these issues and say, "I am sorry to be late. Traffic was terrible. I couldn’t get to a phone. I know that you were wondering what happened to me." Your choice allows your friend to acknowledge the concern and apprehension rather that just voice the frustration of waiting. The hole of another repetitive fight is avoided, and the evening goes well."


Chapter Five

"I walk down another street.

Chapter Five is a new day. Finally, you change streets. You change your inner dialogue and behavior so completely that the old pattern no longer occurs.

Once on the new street, you must be careful because, unfortunately, this street will have its own holes. It will have holes that you have never seen before. But you now know the rules about the "holes" in the sidewalk. The first time that you encounter one you should ask, "How am I responsible?" It may be that you are not responsible, but the sooner you ask this question, the sooner you can take charge of your life.

This process is like a spiral that leads us upward towards psychological and spiritual wholeness. The sidewalks of life do not go in a straight line. They may not be flat. They may be like a trail that winds round and round a mountain until it reaches the top. Each time you break out of an old pattern of thinking and living, you begin a new switchback that leads you ever upwards to the fundamental goal of life.

Fall into enough of the holes in the sidewalks of life and you may become whole. Through the lessons of the holes of life, you approach wholeness. Becoming whole means striving to be all that you can be. All potentialities are explored. You know what you do, and why you do it. Choices are made, and you are responsible for these choices. The holes in the sidewalk are actually invitations to grow. Are you open to the invitation?"


 The Healing Crisis

    ← Empower Yourself


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