I was diagnosed with leukaemia at 17 and given a 10, maybe 20% chance of living. This was 4 years ago...
I was devastated...as any human being would be.
But after a while, I started to hate that feeling. The constant depression. The tears. The gut clenching dread. I wanted this to all be over. I wanted a way out of the hole I’d dug myself. But there wasn’t much to really look forward to.
In the end, what ended up helping me most was a simple thought exercise I did one day.
I took a step back and looked at what had happened to me, as if it had happened to someone else. From there I guess I saw everything that had happened to me objectively. So I could question everything that was going on and more importantly, what I was doing.
And I did that through asking WHY.
Why was I feeling that way?
There was no answer. In the end I realised I had what I had. Though it may suck, I couldn’t go back in time and change what had happened. I couldn’t take away my cancer.
What was my anger and frustration accomplishing?
Nothing. Other than making me feel WORSE about everything.
Why was I feeling that way then?
I didn’t have an answer for that.
But that question alone made me realise one thing that stays with me to this day.
Because in the end all those feelings; the anger, fear and depression – all of it was coming from ME. My brain. My mind.
If I was making myself feel that way, that meant I could take that away too.
In the end, We Will ALWAYS have the final say of what’s going on with us.
But we’re only human, right? And with months to years of chemo, pain, treatment; all of which is likely leading to me dying anyway, there wasn’t much to look forward to, right?
So I questioned those fears and doubts too.
Again, one question got me through that.
Why was I thinking I was cursed for being diagnosed so young?
My doctor’s words as this happened rang through my head as I heard this. When I was diagnosed he told me, “The good news is, you’re 17 and you have leukaemia, but the bad news is, you’re 17 and you have leukaemia”.
Good news? GOOD NEWS? REALLY? I remember thinking for a while after that.
But when I thought about it, being diagnosed young meant I could get the optimal treatment, I could recover faster. I didn’t have a job or a family or kids to worry about. Indeed, I had one right there beside me the whole way!
What I once thought was a curse turned out to be a blessing…
Why was I so afraid?
I was looking at chemo as a thing that brings pain, misery and suffering. And it would.
But wasn’t it also a medicine? The very thing that could get me out of this? Indeed, my doctors wouldn’t be putting me through this if they didn’t think it could work.
Why was I so pissed off, afraid and depressed?
In the end, I was worrying about all these things I couldn’t control. And that worry and stress was only hurting me more.
From stepping back and looking at my situation objectively I could see that the only logical thing to do was to focus on the things I could control!
My health. My actions. And my happiness.
Because what this has taught me is that you will always have a second, better way, of looking at things. ALWAYS.
It’s not easy to see that straight away. Definitely not if you’re overwhelmed and in the midst of it.
But if you can take a step back, talk about it with someone, and just ask ‘WHY?’ You can get yourself through just about anything and become the happiest, most successful version of yourself.
It doesn’t take courage. I wasn’t brave or inspiring or crazy in my ‘battle’ (in truth, it was a beating) with cancer. I cried, I wailed for it to be over. I still do sometimes (beating cancer isn’t always the end of suffering for many survivors). But I kept in mind these things; what it was all for, and by doing that I saw something good in the darkest days of my life.
You don’t need some crazy willpower or positivity either.
Because in the end… if you can take that step back, and ask why.. If you can help your friends and family do the same… then it becomes only logical, it only makes sense to take the path that leaves you most well off.
And I hope what I’ve said can help you do this.
Nikhil writes a blog about his journey, hoping to inspire the medical profession (he’s studying medicine now!) to care more for their patients, educate people on worthy causes and ultimately, to help others out in all kinds of circumstances (he truly believes this mentality can help with anything, from the mundane struggles we have in day to day life, to the epic journeys we take in life). He’s also doing many exciting things, including research, and growing his own charity!
You can find him at www.nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au