Thursday, May 29, 2008

Where Does Strength Come From?

I used to say I'm strong in facing cancer because I have no choice, but I realize now that that's not true. I do have a choice.

I know there are cancer patients who turn to despair and self-pity. Some are angry, dejected, hopeless, miserable. But maybe they wouldn't be if they had my family and friends.

I know several women whose husbands or boyfriends left them after they were diagnosed with cancer. I read about one woman whose husband, instead of being supportive and strong for her, turned to drugs and alcohol. I have a friend who had to deal with cancer treatment and a nasty divorce at the same time. I know another cancer patient whose friends stopped inviting her to dinner parties after word got around about her cancer.

I think these scenarios I've just described are worse than the cancer itself.

What if Tony left me? What if we ran out of money and our family refused to give us any financial help? What if all of our friends abandoned us or distanced themselves from us? What if I were completely alone with my cancer, with no husband, no friends, and two kids to support? Would I be this strong then? I'd like to think so, but I'm not sure.

I'm incredibly lucky that the only bad thing in my life is cancer. I have a husband who's handling my cancer just the way I need him to - with solid support, humor, and wisdom. I have two kids who are healthy, happy, and too cute for words. I have friends who have amazed me with their kindness and generosity. Maybe this doesn't say much about what I thought of them before my cancer, but I really didn't know just how wise and open-hearted our friends could be.

I have an extended family who seem to have forgotten or forgiven all my nastiness to them over the years and have stepped up to offer all kinds of love and support. I'm surrounded by mere acquaintances and even strangers who are offering encouragement and help with shopping, looking after my kids, getting me to doctors' appointments. And these are people who don't even know me.

Maybe this is why I have the strength. I can be strong because I have only cancer to fight, not the prejudices or insensitivity of others. I choose to be strong because I have family and friends who need, want, and expect me to be. And I owe it to them.


Anonymous said...

What a truely beautiful heart you have Shin!
It is always hard as a "friend" to know JUST how much (or how little) to do! I am sure I speak for many who so want to do MORE but fear trying to do TOO much! It is a difficult balancing act to be supportive to the "Raza family" as a whole without overstepping the mark and being "over enthusiastic" with what we may THINK is healpful but perhaps is little more than an irritation sometimes and far from helpful! I marvel at the way you all "manage" your illness with such an open mind and continue to "make the best" of what REALLY IS a LOUSY deal! Continue to be all that you are...........

Anonymous said...

Becoz you were kind & meant well though you may sound nasty in the past, that, these kindness are now returned back to you.

It's your BIG Heart, my dear....

Keep smiling
Mandy & Kim

Anonymous said...

Therer are 2 quotes I like about strength.
1) Strength is a matter of a made up mind. unknown to me
2) You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, "I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along." You must do the thing you think you can not do.
.......Eleanor Roosevelt
I think this explains to me where your strength comes from. This is what I see in you.
With much love,

Anonymous said...

Dear Shin,

I am of the opinion that you feel supported by family, friends and strangers. The growing number of blog-readers and writers who show concern in various ways is an added encouragement.

Your mind-set of wanting to cope well with the treatment also helps you greatly.

I believe there are many who have supported you in prayers too.

You are indeed blessed with much love from family. Love builds up and that's where you feel strong as the recipient and giver of care to your beloved ones - children and husband.

Your body may feel the strain of the illness but your spirit remains undaunted and unyielding to discouragement.

If you keep dwelling your thoughts on what is lovely, honorable, and right - it will go a long way to lift you in your spirit.