This too shall pass

5 Sep

You expect to confront all sorts of trouble – betrayal , loss, and illness – along your path. Although you cannot expect to evade misfortune … you can try to be prepared for it – Songhay sorcery

Today I found an interesting article on the internet from Professor Paul Stroller. Image

Professor Stroller was diagnosed with lymphoma and has undergone several treatments. He wrote his journey fighting cancer in his book, all his fears, his pains, and how he survived. It’s interesting that Professor Stroller found comforts in Songhai* words and wisdom.

Somehow, pretty much or less, I could understand the words Professor Stroller tells, as I have the same cancer as the one he had. Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. How those frightening thoughts and worries quickly possessed me and completely crumbled my world at the moment the Doctor told me the prognosis. My heart sunk and everything seems unacceptable. Cancer has been one terrifying word, I never thought would be labelled in me.

Here are some thoughts that Professor stroller wrote in His book :

  • Feeling confident about the outcomes of our choices gives us a sense of control over our lives – something that most Americans strive for. Most Songhay people see the world quite differently. They believe that they have little control over what happens to them … uncertainty, rather than certainty, governs their journey through life. Like many Americans, I have a difficult time dealing with ambiguous uncertainty. In our main stream culture, we prefer quick, clear, concrete answers to difficult problem. We’d like to believe that we are able to control our destiny. If we get sick, we expect a quick fix. How many of us are able or willing to jump into a fast-moving stream and let the current carry us to an uncertain destinations? Most of us would feel that we were being foolhardy if we did so.
  • You have been told that you have cancer, an event that marks a point of misfortune. Events have compelled you to decide which path to follow into the village of the sick. You also know that you alone will bear the consequences of that decision. When I found myself standing on this point of misfortune… I desperately wanted someone – anyone – to tell me what to do. As Adamu Jenitongo would say, they must find their own way. They must choose which path to take and bear the consequences. Cancer patients must make the same fateful choice. That is the reality that the newly diagnosed cancer patient faces; it is a hard reality to bear.
  • Many of us can’t even accept inevitable changes to our aging bodies, a sign that life is finite, let alone the specter of death. In the world of sorcery, however, illness is ever present in life. In that world, illness is a gateway to learning more about life. As for death, it is your continuous companion.

I am amazed that Professor Stroller has undergone cycles of chemotherapy phase. I was told that the side effects would be so horrible. I prefer not to proceed with chemotherapy. I know that my life won’t be normal anymore once I get to the beginning of treatment. Not just the chemotherapy agents destroyed the cancer cells, it also kills your healthy living body cells. The drugs will make your body ache. So, I geared myself to fight this cancer without chemotherapy.

Lessons from this misfortune (taken from Professor Stroller’s book) :

  1. Respect for cancer – or any illness – does not mean that you meekly submit to the ravages of disease.  Following the ideas of sages like Adamu Jenitongo, illness is accepted as an ongoing part of life. When illness appears, it presents one with limitations, but if it is possible to accept the limitations and work within their parameters, one can create a degree of comforts in uncomfortable circumstances.
  2. When you learn you have cancer, the world spins out of control. You are thrown into a world of medical procedures and inconclusive diagnoses. You find yourself in the vortex of a whirlwind. No matter what kind of support you have from friends, family and professionals –  ultimately  you … must face your fate alone. No matter the degree of support that they gave, cancer patients must confront their illness alone.
  3. Optimism, which can be learned, enables people to live longer, healthier, and happier lives, as compared with the experience of pessimistic people. Pessimism can lead to a sense of helplessness and trigger depression. Helplessness and depression, in turn, weaken the immune system, priming the body for serious illnesses and even premature death.
  4. Being optimistic should not blind us from reality. You can be pessimistic, but not in a way that clouds your vision completely. Above all, you should attempt to be prepared to confront whatever life presents – pragmatic optimism laced with a practical pessimism
  5. To respect the power of illness, which means that they attempt to incorporate it into their lives. If illness is incorporated into one’s life, people can use it to become stronger in body and wiser in spirit.
  6. Cancer propels you down a difficult path on which it is important to be humble. If you are arrogant about life and believe that you can master illness, a disease, like cancer, can force you into a needlessly desperate corner.
  7. Having been diagnosed with and treated for lymphoma forced me to reflect deeply about the meaning of my life. It is unthinkable to be grateful for a diagnosis of cancer. No one desires the pain and suffering that come with a serious illness. But once you’ve got it… why not incorporate it, as the Songhay would say, to bring to your being a deeper understanding of life’s forces and meanings?
  8. Learn to respect the unalterable presence of illness and live with it. If you learn to live with illness, your being becomes stronger and stronger.

When you do fight a battle, make sure it is an important one. Knowing when to fight is the mark of courage; it prepares you for battles worthy of your power.  Winning is not the goal of everyday confrontations. – Adamu Jenitongo.

Keep your spirit up, my fellow cancer patients. Do not be afraid.

This too shall pass.

Cheers,

Ness

*The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was a state located in western Africa. From the mid-15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history.[4] This empire bore the same name as its leading ethnic group, the Songhai. Its capital was the city of Gao, where a Songhai state had existed since the 11th century. Its base of power was on the bend of the Niger River in present day Niger and Burkina Faso. (wikipedia)

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