As kids, we were taught to say: "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me." When tears are in your eyes and you're feeling crushed by a cruel remark, you discover the truth. Words have the power to cause long-lasting harm.
That's the reason it's important to familiarize yourself with the committee inside your head that speaks to you about your life as a cancer survivor. I've heard a lot of unhealthy and relationship-damaging advice from some of my committee members.
Despite my warnings, they continued to share their thoughts and opinions until I gave them their pink slip and fired them.
These are persistent folks who travel far and wide seeking to join the committee of every cancer survivor.
I'll introduce a few of my committee members so that you can accept or reject them if they come to you asking to join your committee.
Wendy Worrier: Her favorite time to visit is at nighttime. She enjoys keeping you awake when you'd prefer to sleep. She carefully evaluates the challenges you face and presents you with the worst possible outcomes. Her specialty is fomenting recurrence anxiety. If she can take away the peaceful and calm moments of your journey by focusing your attention on the possibility of your cancer returning, she's got you exactly where she wants you.
Debbie Downer: If you were dying of thirst in a desert and you stumbled upon a life-saving oasis, Debbie Downer would appear and say that your experience in the oasis was miserable because of a lack of ice. No matter how successful your treatment is, if you have any unpleasant side effects, Debbie Downer will focus all of your attention on the negative aspects of coping with cancer. There is nothing positive that can or will happen to you that she can't ruin with her negative outlook.
Withdrawn Wilson: He has one motto, it goes like this: "People are not your friends, avoid them at all costs." He will work hard to convince you that no one can understand what you're going through. He'll lead you to feel offended and disappointed. He will nourish and feed your disappointment and hurt by replaying them in your mind over and over. Soon the feelings are mutual. You don't want to see anyone, and no one will have a desire to see you. When you've been turned away from people, you often turn to mood-changing behaviors to dull the ache of isolation and loneliness. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, affairs and compulsive spending are a few of the side effects of spending too much time with Withdrawn Wilson.
Angry Alex: His specialty involves breaking up relationships. You know he's active when there is fighting, arguments, harsh words, sarcasm, hostile humor, bitterness and angry silence. If you become negative about the future of your relationship or consider breaking up, Angry Alex couldn't be happier. He's a powerful foe. Sometimes it takes support or professional counseling to defeat him.
Amazing Grace is guided by a biblical principle from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ..."
Amazing Grace lives to surprise you, either directly or indirectly. When you receive a gift, an act of kindness, a prayer, a word of encouragement, the gift of laughter, or compassion, Amazing Grace is working in your life. She's the most valuable member of the committee in my head. It's her voice and the gifts she brings into my life that have made the difference in how I cope with cancer.
I've given Wendy Worrier, Debbie Downer, Withdrawn Wilson and Angry Alex their pink slips. I've discovered they're persistent.
They repeatedly reapply for their positions. They send me texts, emails and FaceTime phone calls reminding me of their contributions to my life and my journey with cancer.
Sometimes I've believed them, until I check the accuracy of their messages with Amazing Grace.
Can you identify any of your committee members? Are there pink slips you can hand out?
If Amazing Grace isn't on your committee, speak with folks who are familiar with her voice and her works. Ask them to help you craft an invitation. Faith in God often beckons her to your committee.
It's important to keep tabs on all members of your cancer survivor committee that have access to your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.
Note: This article appeared in Prostate Cancer News Today
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.
Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is: