By Pat Wetzel
Life is always a teacher, but we’re not always interested students. But cancer, at least for me, changed that. I became first a student of cancer; then of health; and then of life. Cancer simultaneously slows things and speeds them up, but most of all it offers the opportunity to strip away the extraneous.
It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them. -Paul Coelho
CancerRoadTrip started in June. From the Sierra Nevadas to California wine country, to the Pacific Northwest, Canada and back, life on the road is unfolding. And looking ahead, much more is on the horizon, as long as my health holds out. Possibilities include an stay in beautiful rooftop Florentine apartment; perhaps a month in Barcelona; a full year on the road, going all around the world. But before I make those decisions, I have an amazing celebration of science and space at NASA marking the end of the Cassini Mission; a trip to Ireland; and a few other road trips ahead. Not necessarily by road! Sign up at CancerRoadTrip for updates. I’ll send an email when a new post is up. (No spam ever. Your info is safe.)
Travel, for me, provides new context and often allows for revelations that might otherwise escape my notice. Like the lunch at the Vancouver Four Seasons. I knew my life had been on a downward slide since cancer, but this really drove it home.
And it made me realize the importance of regular self care. Which has sometimes been elusive, given events. I’ve found myself stressed and driven since the last quarter of 2016 when I found that the tech creeps were walking off with my intellectual property (IP) and delivering nothing. Nothing. Nada. For months I was stunned that anyone would do such a thing.
There is a Zen fable about the value of approaching life in a non-judgemental way. It’s called Who Knows? The Farmer’s Son and it goes like this:
One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he left his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life.
Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, “What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are!. You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?” The farmer replied: “Who knows? We shall see”.
Two days later the old horse came back now rejuvenated after meandering in the mountainsides while eating the wild grasses. He came back with twelve new younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the corral.
Word got out in the village of the old farmer’s good fortune and it wasn’t long before people stopped by to congratulate the farmer on his good luck. “How fortunate you are!” they exclaimed. You must be very happy!” Again, the farmer softly said, “Who knows? We shall see.”
At daybreak on the next morning, the farmer’s only son set off to attempt to train the new wild horses, but the farmer’s son was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. One by one villagers arrived during the day to bemoan the farmer’s latest misfortune. “Oh, what a tragedy! Your son won’t be able to help you farm with a broken leg. You’ll have to do all the work yourself, How will you survive? You must be very sad”. they said. Calmly going about his usual business the farmer answered, “Who knows? We shall see”
Several days later a war broke out. The Emperor’s men arrived in the village demanding that young men come with them to be conscripted into the Emperor’s army. As it happened the farmer’s son was deemed unfit because of his broken leg. “What very good fortune you have!!” the villagers exclaimed as their own young sons were marched away. “You must be very happy.” “Who knows? We shall see!”, replied the old farmer as he headed off to work his field alone.
As time went on the broken leg healed but the son was left with a slight limp. Again the neighbors came to pay their condolences. “Oh what bad luck. Too bad for you”! But the old farmer simply replied; “Who knows? We shall see.”
As it turned out the other young village boys had died in the war and the old farmer and his son were the only able bodied men capable of working the village lands. The old farmer became wealthy and was very generous to the villagers. They said: “Oh how fortunate we are, you must be very happy”, to which the old farmer replied, “Who knows? We shall see!”
I think of that story often. Learning to navigate life’s twists and turns; finding the wisdom to watch and wait; staying still when all else is not: these are things I am learning through life, through life with cancer and through my travels. The world seems to be a massive metaphor somedays, beseeching me to listen and learn. And I am trying.
Just as I am trying to bring CancerRoadTrips to others. Because everyone needs a break, especially when it comes to cancer. We are putting together 4 annual healing escapes. Twelve lucky souls will win an amazing vacation each quarter and time with some of our experts in complimentary cancer recovery and care. And we’ll be sharing it on video, to provide education and inspiration to everyone.
But we need your help. Follow me on social media. Engage! Show our sponsors that this is a dynamic audience that they’d like to support. Their support will bring healing to all of us.
Be well. Carpe diem, today and every #anticancer day.
“May you live every day of your life.” -Jonathan Swift
Pat Wetzel is the Founder of the Anti-Cancer Club. In 2009, she was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma. After three rounds of chemo, surgery and radiation, she is in remission.
How does one take control of one’s health, even in the face of cancer? What are the factors of health in the context of cancer?
Research by Dean Ornish, MD, David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Jeanne WallacePhD, CNC, and others point to 4 key factors over which each of us has total control: Nutrition, Exercise, Mind/Body Modalities (such as stress management) and Social Connection.
The lifestyle choices that create anti-cancer health are not the day to day reality that most of us live. Our lives are fast and stressful. We don’t always eat well and exercise may or may not be part of our equation. And even with family and friends, cancer can be very isolating. People simply don’t know what to say or do.
Ultimately each of us must find our own path, but we don’t have to re-create the wheel. Learn from all of us on this site as we share personal experiences, expertise and insights into creating an anti-cancer life.
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