enduring the hard stuff

exploringHumor infused…

Here in this New Year I have been thinking a lot about life’s challenges and transformations.  The challenges come to all of us in many forms…relationship struggles, job problems, grieving loss, managing difficult emotions, health issues…the list goes on.

We all want to know it’s possible to endure the hard stuff. 


Speaking from experience, I can tell you it IS possible.  Not only can we endure, but we can thrive.  We can find significant, meaningful, life altering change that pushes and stretches us beyond our comfort zone.   If we choose to hang out there… beyond our comfort zone… transformation can happen.

One way I have endured the hard stuff is sharing with others my heart felt honesty and humor.  The entry below was taken from one of my CaringBridge posts last year while I was healing from surgery and going through chemotherapy. Transformation begins with fully knowing the challenge.

The Challenge and the Cancer Card

In our house, we use the 4 Agreements as rules to live by… Don’t take it personal. Be impeccable with your word. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. It is with these guideposts I attempt equanimity. They become especially important when facing life’s challenges.

If you look up the word “challenge”, it can mean a competition or contest, as if someone might face a challenge “better” than someone else might. Some definitions of challenge imply that we pick and choose what we face. A definition that works better for me these days is that challenge is “something that needs a lot of skill, energy, and determination to deal with.”

Having cancer is certainly a challenge…something I need to deal with head on. You have heard about my my intense surgery and how many staples they used to sew me up. You have been privy to my TMI reports! Perhaps you have read your way through the longer entries sharing the good, bad, and ugly of my journey. The reality of cancer has caused me to break down and sob like the rest of ‘em.

What you may not know is that, along the way, I was issued a “cancer card!” It’s like an E ticket at Disneyland (Google it.) It’s privileges on steroids. It’s the “collect $200, get out of jail free card.” You get gifts in the mail. Generous offers. Random kindness. Unlimited forgiveness. I have always known people who had cancer cards but never knew the giddy power of having one, until now!

The cancer card comes with its special benefits, but simply having one has not made me courageous. I believe courage has to do with how willing I am to take risks and to be vulnerable. For me, being courageous is “to love like I’ve never been hurt, and to dance like nobody’s looking.” These kinds of challenges reward me beyond measure…with or without the cancer card.

The cancer card also hasn’t changed what it means for me to take risks. Reaching out to someone might be a dead end or rekindle a friendship. It’s a risk. Picking up my guitar after 30 years could result in my rejecting or embracing the music. I would never know unless I risked trying. Sharing with you what I am thinking might be too much, but it’s a risk I feel compelled to take. Just having cancer hasn’t changed any of these challenges. What cancer brings to the table is yet another reason to either stop myself from facing risks or motivate myself to take them.

But, I’m puzzled. Having been a recipient of the cancer card, I will tell you, cancer alone does not trump the many challenges people survive. Yes, cancer can be life threatening and scary, but, I have experienced threatening and scary challenges more difficult than cancer. (Yikes…did I say that out loud?) What I am saying is that there are all kinds of challenges… disasters, hardship, and abuses, that run parallel. When I have faced some of these, I don’t recall getting a card! I am challenged how to give cancer its due respect but not beyond all other issues that people face. I’m handing in my cancer card!

But then again, what if I miss out on all the privileges? Now that I think about it, I might be smart to hang onto my card for a while. It’s likely to get a whole lot more threatening and way more scary before this is over.

Never mind 🙂

Are you, or someone you know, struggling with change, a shift in life experience, new circumstances, or unfamiliar situations?  I offer personal coaching through all life’s transitions and challenges. I would be honored to be of help.  Contact me at bridgett@bridgettperry.com


5 Responses to “enduring the hard stuff”

  1. Janet says:

    I wish my husband could get the cancer card from his family. Two of his sister’s are no longer speaking to him. I guess they think like you cancer is easy and there are other things that are harder. This is the hardest thing he’s had to deal with and will continue to deal with. I hope they don’t show up at his funeral expecting any comfort.

  2. Bridgett says:

    Hi Janet – thanks so much for your comment. I am so sorry about your husband. It sounds like there has been some painful separation in your family on top of an already difficult situation.

    I am also sorry if I gave the impression, “cancer is easy.” That certainly is not what I meant to convey. My intended message is that living with cancer – as profoundly difficult as it is – is but one among many other disasters, hardship, or abuses we might endure. What makes the difference is what we do with the experience.

    As someone living with a stage 4 diagnosis, I stare mortality right in the face. Not only has it taken me to my knees, but, ironically, it has also made me stronger. We all manage our grief differently. There is no one best way…there is only OUR way.

    Personally, I have found that the more awareness I have about what I think, say, and do – awareness about what I do with grief and loss – the more able I am to change how I handle life, cancer and all.

    May you and your family find peace – Bridgett

  3. Thank you for this piece, Bridgett. I have not read about your experience since we were just introduced by Cheryl. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis.

    I loved and cared for my husband during cancer therapy. We found ways to ease ourselves through–talking, holding back nothing, ritual, meditation, and the practice of kindness. Vic became a Kindness Warrior. Ten needle pokes to find a vein? He reassured the anxious tech. The PT/CAT scan machine breaks down while you’re in it full of high radiation fluids. Surrender. Blame no one. Say your mantra and remember everyone suffers. Your wife loses her temper because she’s exhausted and afraid. Give her a big hug and love her all the more. The soul growth of our shared practice was incredible for both of us. I learned how much Kindness matters.

  4. Bridgett says:

    Elaine – thanks so much. There is a Quaker saying that feels like it applies to what you shared…”this Friend speaks my mind.”

  5. Chiller says:

    Thank you Bridgett. I will be following you. I haven’t been a good blogger. I fail to post very often.

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