Friday, March 9, 2012

A Glimmer Of Strength

It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond that matters.  ~Epictetus

I got sick and nobody could tell me what was wrong with me. So I decided I didn't have the time, money or luxury of being sick. I pushed into a horrible crash. Breaking down, disabled, a complete and total mess. Oh it was bad. My mom came to stay with me for a few days so my husband could go to work. I was not mentally stable enough to be left alone. Feelings of wanting to die, cease to exist and not feel the pain or anguish overtake me, well I needed darn near full-time supervision. So mom came to the rescue. After a handful of days I was reasonably certain I was going to survive. I was not sure how, but the acute crisis was over.

Mom's next stop was to help her good friend who just had surgery. I knew this woman, had worked for her years before. Back then she was a young widow with two little sons, a kind and dear soul who did her very best in the face of terrible circumstances. In the decade since she married and had a daughter and most recently underwent surgery to remove her thyroid, for it had cancer. So when my mom gave her a call I took the phone to say hello. When I asked her how she was she said, with the most sincere and thoughtful tone possible, she was good. Really? Good? It was like someone spurred me with a cattle-prod and slapped me across the face at the same time. How was she good? She had a two year-old and cancer. And she was good? I got off the phone with her and marveled at her sincere and genuine response. I wondered how one could be in control while so blatantly out of control of their circumstances. It became instantly obvious to me she had chosen to be good. She was not given the position or privilege, yet despite her situation was not wallowing in self-pity or anger or frustration. She opened my eyes that day to something deep. Something which is the only way I survived the awfulness of so much pain and illness.

Once I realized everything had been stripped away from me, leaving me rotting like a carcass picked dry by ugly greasy vultures, I realized I still had one thing left. My choice of how to respond to the situation. You can take my money, security, health, stability, job, love, joy, ambitions and hopefulness, but you cannot take away my spirit! You cannot take away my choice of how I react. There have been times where finding that spirit was darn near impossible, but with faith and fortitude I have been able to find my way back to the path of progress and slowly rebuild my life brick-by-brick, inch-by-inch. My friend taught me something valuable, stretched me in a way I did not know I could be stretched. I am thankful for that wake-up snap so early in the chronology of this disease, for it instilled in me a foundation I have been able to establish which has been my saving grace many times over. The choice to be good.

Thanks for joining,

This blog was originally published on 8/31/10.


  1. Leah, I had thyroid cancer when I was 23. I am now 47. The doctor said if you are going to get cancer, this is the one to get. I had problems coming out of anesthesia as the surgery was 4 hours and the nodule larger than they thought. I had one radiation treatment. I also had tetany post surgery because of low calcium from the parathyroids. My neck paralyzed in the position as in surgery. It didn't hurt and the iv calcium stopped it. The worst part? I had a bad cold. The rest wasn't that bad, looking bad I now have panic attacks as a patient even though im a nurse. I became one because of that experience to give back. The adjusting of thyroid medication which causes mood swings was the hardest part and yearly scans. It is found in younger women. My adoptive mother had the same thing two years before. We had lived in PA only a few hundred miles from 3 mile Island when it melted. She was abusive. I am now on work disability due to my mental illness, its hell I totally relate to wanting to die, which is not wanting all that pain and fear. My illness tore my marraige apart and I now have not seen my sons in 5 months. My depression and mood swings were too much and my older son as aspergers ans bipolar like me. My fibro is not as severe as yours it the mental illness. Im in hell pulling myslef out of this I've in one week had a psychotic break and am finally down from a horrible manic episode and I had to move. I love your blog, I so validate how this is making you feel. I feel it too. Im reading Life after Loss, its saving me. A must read. I hope you don't mind the long post. Its actually a symptom of my illness. Your friends grace was touching I hope she is doing well now. Take care look forward to your next post. You and I are 2 of the strongest people I know right now. Hugs. Kellie

  2. Have you tried working up to really working out? I am almost 60 and I feel absolutely wonderful – back from the brink of suicide. I work out 3x per week w/a trainer and I would say that over the last 9 mos, my health has improved 100%. I was where you are now less than a yr ago.

    Read my story here: