Nine years ago, I was happily preparing for my last treatment at the Cancer Centre. “Finally, I will be done,” I said to myself. A celebration seemed in order and I was making plans. The week before this auspicious date, however, I had pause for thought.
A beloved family member was diagnosed with an advanced cancer, for which no treatment was available, at that time. He, on the other hand, would have given his right arm for the chance to get chemo.
It struck me like a ton of bricks. As glad as I was to see the end of my chemo, I had been one of the lucky ones, where treatment was available.
A common refrain, not just in the sick room, but at work, home and elsewhere are words like this:
- I have to make dinner.
- I have to go to work.
- I have to clean the garage.
- I have to weed the garden
- I have to do my taxes
- I have to go to chemo today
- I have to go for that cat scan.
- I have to go for an angiogram
- I have to xxx (substitute anything that comes to mind)
Imagine, for a moment, what it might be like not to be able to do any of those things for a myriad of reasons: no job; no money; no food; no rights; no hospital; no treatment and so on.
Years before I had cancer, my father had lost his legs to diabetes. One holiday night, my spouse and I were standing at a sink filled with dirty dishes. The dishwasher was broken so it required us to do the job. When we started to complain about “having” to do all this work, we both looked at each other and knew how grateful my Dad would have been to stand at that sink and wash every dish.
I don’t think it is helpful to compare suffering. I do think it can be helpful to assess our options realistically. It is not lucky to get heart disease or cancer or any number of illnesses. But, when that happens, we are fortunate if there is a protocol that just may help us get better.
This is not denying the anxiety and fear and side effects that come along with many medical procedures. It doesn’t imply that there is something to like. It simply acknowledges that today I get to do something that may help me regain my health and extend my life.
There is power in words.
Many people have reported back to me that making that simple shift from “I have to,” to “I get to” has dramatically changed their approach and experience not only to medical treatment but in their daily life. You may want to experiment yourself and see how it works. You could be surprised at the difference three little words can make.
Note 1: This phrase, “I get to,” is more and more in the mainstream. There is even jewelry inscribed with these three little words. It first came to my attention, many years ago, from an article of the same name written by Kate Monaghan, and published in Thirty Thousand Days. It took root in my “operating system,” when I saw that not everyone was fortunate enough to get to have treatment.
Note 2: Because there is such power in words, I caution you to not think of “I Get To” as a formula. Use it where it fits and as you see fit. Thank you for reading these musings. See you next week, Trudy