Lessons from Cancer: I’m so grateful for my lessons

Joyce Rothman

My piece for the newspapers and blog is due this morning, and I’m just starting it now because I’ve been distracted with going into Boston every day for radiation treatments. (Today’s the last, by the way.)

My bills are overdue, and there’s a pile of paperwork that needs to be done. Lists are made out of what to do, and I could easily become overwhelmed. But I’m not. My list is getting smaller day by day. I will get through it as I’m supposed to, and if I consciously keep myself focused on one thing at a time, one moment at a time, I’ll stay calm. And I will. And I am.

Thank you to the divine for helping me to remember that it’s all about a moment at a time. If I didn’t remember that, I’d become crazed and wouldn’t feel the peace that I do.

My daughter asks why it took getting sick to learn this life lesson, and my answers are many. First of all, I have been learning this in bits and pieces for years, and most of it has been cumulative. But over the past 20 months it’s been accelerated by necessity. My situations put me into sink-or-swim mode, and “swimming” goes more in line with my personality. Sinking was not an option. So what else could I do? The best I could, is the answer. 

After all, that’s all any of us can hope for, and it is how I want to live the rest of my life. I want inner piece, contentment and joy, and I can honestly say that I have it now and I feel it, too. In having it and even in writing and talking about it, I feel absolutely wonderful. It is the culmination of my life. It has come together. It’s not been an easy life, but it has been a satisfying one. I've been gifted with an awareness of what is really important and the time to experience it. How lucky am I? So lucky and so grateful.

Joyce Rothman of Massachusetts, a nurse for 40 years, was diagnosed with lung and pancreatic cancer in July 2010. Since then, she has been writing about her diagnosis, her treatment and her outlook on the process, in hopes of helping others. Follow her journey at http://makingsenseofitall.joycerothman.com.