Mindfulness & Expecting the Unexpected

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By Debbie Woodbury, Cancer Hope Network Volunteer

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” Woody Allen

As cancer survivors, we know that plans get interrupted – big time. Whatever we were doing when we heard the words, “You have cancer,” immediately gets put on the back burner and our lives shoot off in an entirely different direction. There is no negotiation and, often, no warning. It’s just the way it is.

It’s not that my life went perfectly by plan before my diagnosis. When I got married, we naively thought all we had to do to make a baby was the obvious. Acting on that assumption, we decided to start our family and fell hard into the black hole of miscarriages and infertility. Talk about seeing a plan go up in smoke. Five years later, we were parents, but we certainly didn’t get there the way we planned.

When I was going through my four and a half month diagnostic phase, the first thing I learned was to give up expectations. The first two or three times I met with a doctor, or had a test, I went in with one expectation, only to be blown away by reality. I finally accepted there was no Plan A, B, or even C. There was only what existed at that moment.

In an earlier post, I asked “What is “normal” after cancer, anyway?” It seems, at least in one regard, that normal post-cancer is the same as it was pre-cancer: Expect the unexpected. Last week, we attended the funeral of my husband’s uncle, my car died and the symposium I’ve been talking about all month was canceled due to snow. It was a week where very little went as planned, but it was my reality.

I will still make plans, because that is my nature. But cancer has made me more aware of the gamble. Once a plan is made, it’s an easy thing to slip into expectation, which makes it harder to be mindful of the present. As I plan, I will embrace uncertainty, which unfortunately for all of us, is all too common in our post-cancer worlds.

How do you handle a change in plans? Has cancer made you more aware of uncertainty and the risk of having expectations?

Originally published on WhereWeGoNow.

Debbie Woodbury is the founder of WhereWeGoNow, a gathering place for survivors creating inspired healing, wellness and live out loud joy. Debbie is the author of You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment, a Huffington Post blogger, an inspirational speaker, a member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board, a patient educator with the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project, a wife and mother, and a former very stressed out lawyer. Debbie was honored to be quoted in CURE Magazine in Survivor Defined and Seeing Red: Coping with Anger During Cancer. You can also find Debbie on Twitter and Facebook.

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