Mark Roby is a 12 year survivor of a rare sarcoma, for which he was given 6 months to live. To survive that diagnosis, for which there is no standard course of treatment, Mark couldn’t afford to place himself at the mercy of the medical establishment. His healing required clear intentions, incredible persistence, and no end of creative action-taking.
Mark’s book, Lifelines to Cancer Survival, is full of helpful information for facing cancer’s darkest moments, from how to access treatment your doctor isn’t likely to offer you, to what to do when your treatment stops working (his did, multiple times). Mark also offers the results of his exhaustive search for live and online resources (I‘m honored to be included as one of his experts).
But his book’s most important contribution is this message, which should be the anthem of cancer survivors everywhere: there is always hope, but it’s your responsibility to nourish that hope with your wholehearted intention and complete engagement.
If you think about it, that’s true for any of life’s big accomplishments. Nothing great has ever occurred just for someone’s hoping for it. Hope must be backed by a firm belief in the possibility of the outcome, and action which consistently demonstrates that belief. This is even true – perhaps especially true – when it comes to surviving cancer.
You may be asking (I hope you’re asking!) how it’s possible to be responsible for your beliefs and actions when the rug’s been pulled out from under you. You’re overwhelmed, maybe paralyzed into inaction because the odds against you seem so high and the expertise required seems so vast. This is why most people simply turn themselves over to their medical teams, hoping to become one of the successful statistics.
Those around you will do the best they can, especially if they’re clear as to how they can help you. But the less clear the path, the greater a role your engagement plays. Your intention and initiative will be called upon when others are tempted to throw up their hands. Though it’s daunting, this is the time when your participation is most important.
When is the path least clear? Certainly when you have a cancer diagnosis for which there’s no standard of care, like Mark Roby had. And also when you complete treatment, because in this country we have yet to offer cancer survivors a clear path to physical recovery, recurrence prevention and integration of cancer’s profound emotional impact. Your intention and engagement can make the difference between a fearful, disempowered survivorship and your radiantly happy, healthy future.
In part 2 we’ll look at how to mobilize your intention so it becomes a guiding force in your healing and ongoing wellness. In the meanwhile, if you or a loved one are seeking lifelines when the medical establishment offers no clear options, check out Lifelines to Cancer Survival.