Spiritual lessons

When I found that breast cancer was upon me, I paid close attention to the lessons, spiritual and material, that I would have to learn and pass through. I worked hard to overcome the challenge. I fought and did not give up, even though I was often assailed by depression and sadness. I applied everything that I had learned from my parents and my teachers and from life. I applied all that I had learned as a doctor to my condition and its treatment. I applied all that I had learned as a minister on the spiritual path. This time, by the grace of God, I tried hard to learn the lessons that cancer had to teach me. And this time, I believe I passed this test, and I believe that it is indeed by His grace.

One of the key lessons that I learned is that what happens to you in life is not as important as your reaction to it. I cannot control all of the circumstances in my life, but I can choose what I will do and what my path will be. Although I may pass through grief and sadness, I do not have to dwell in them or let them overtake my life. I found out that I have far more control over things than I realized, if I could simply let go of the sense of needing to control them. I am learning in a deeper way to surrender all things to God and to my Higher Self. For if I get my little self out of the way, my Higher Self can act in its place.

An important lesson was to set loving boundaries for myself. Cancer forced me to delineate what was me and what was not me. Here was this foreign thing invading my body—and like it or not I had allowed it. I learned to remove it with the help of medicine and the mind and the spirit. I changed my thoughts and my feelings, and I changed my life.

Just as I set loving boundaries in my body, I likewise set loving boundaries in my life. I learned to say no to things that do not feel right or are not my concern. I learned to take less responsibility for others and more for myself. And I learned a greater appreciation of the healing power of love. Although I knew it and practiced it before my illness, I understand it at a far deeper level now.

No matter what else happens in my life after cancer, I know that I have passed a major hurdle. Whether the cancer is gone for good or returns one day does not matter. I am a different person now. Having had and overcome cancer affects everything else I do and say and think. It has changed me for the better forever. I have a greater sense of hope and love in my heart. I have a better relationship with everyone, including myself. I have a deeper relationship with God. I strive to do the best that I can for myself, and I seek ways to help others as best as I can.


Excerpted from A Journey through Cancer, by Neroli Duffy