To be lucky or not to be? that is the question…

My husband and I agreed that we should share my diagnosis with our kids. Our rationale was that many people knew and we wanted to be the ones to tell them. By telling them and calling it by its name, we felt we were showing them that we were not afraid of  “cancer”. We did not want the word to be taboo in our house because making it taboo felt like it was not going to be ok to talk about it. We wanted our boys to feel free to ask all the questions they might have and share with us their feelings  (I am a psychologist after all!).

So one night as I was hanging out with the boys, Sebastien asked me out of the blue “mommy how did you get cancer anyway”. Pierro had asked me this question a little while ago. How do you explain this to kids when there is no answer, no explanation to begin with? I can’t remember exactly what I said to Pierro but I must have said something around the lines that it was just bad luck, it was no one’s fault, it just happened. So before I had the chance to answer Sebastien’s question, Pierro answered for me “it was just bad luck”. Sebastien thought about it for a while and then asked me if I had seen a black cat or if I had spilled salt – my sweet child….

This got me thinking about the idea of luck. From what I gather, everyone (in the US) has about a 5% chance of developing colorectal cancer in their lifetime. At my age, the odds are less than 1%… I would call this pretty unlucky…

The fact that my body did not give me any signs that something so serious was going on until I had a Stage 4 cancer growing inside of me… that’s pretty unlucky…

The fact that I didn’t do anything that could have put me at higher risk, like smoking, drinking excessively, not exercising, eating unhealthy and fatty foods… that’s pretty unlucky…

My doctor told me that 85% of the people on my cocktail do NOT lose their hair but she added “with your luck these days, I can’t promise you anything”. I am not sure where this is going but this week, I have been losing a ton of hair daily, so it is not looking good, I really think I will lose it all – falling into that 15% category… that’s pretty unlucky too…

But when I started thinking about this idea of being unlucky, I knew I couldn’t stop my reflection here, I had to look at the other side –

The fact that I had amazing connections in our medical community that helped speed up the process of getting seen and tested, doctors who called their colleagues personally to discuss my case, and made sure I was seeing the best doctors in town, I think that’s pretty lucky…

The fact that my parents canceled their much anticipated trip to Paris to come down and help us as soon as they heard of my diagnosis and the fact that they are still healthy and able to support me and my family and willing to do so with so much enthusiasm and compassion, that’s lucky…

The fact that I have an extraordinary husband who from day one told me we would fight this “together” and keeps reassuring me that all I need to do right now is to fight this cancer as he “takes care of all the rest”, that’s lucky…

The fact that my kids have been incredible troopers through all this, with Pierro dreaming of one day having a cure for cancer and Sebastien reading books to find cancer fighting foods, wow that is very lucky…

The fact that I have wonderful friends as well as an army of supporters who cheer me on with every post I write on Facebook, that’s extremely lucky…

The fact that one of my aunt is a physician with a great interest in nutrition and a wealth of knowledge on herbal supplements and healthy healing foods and the fact that my mom has been able to sort through all the information she has sent me so that we can make the best decisions for what is best for me at this time, that is lucky…

The fact that I have many aunts and uncles who I feel I have neglected throughout the years as I was “too busy living my life” but have regardless been extremely supportive. And I have to mention one in particular, who has been very special to me in these difficult times, as soon as she heard that my hair was falling, she went online and found a website that had fashionable hats and scarves and asked me to pick some for her to order for me, well how lucky is that?

The fact that we have good medical insurance, that we have a beautiful home, that me losing my income is not going to break us, that we live so close to the ocean, that we live in sunny Florida, and this list goes on and on – well that is truly lucky.

So if I were to weigh the “lucky” and “unlucky” sides, there is no doubt in my mind that the lucky side would win. The ironic thing though is that I always told my patients I didn’t believe in luck. I do believe that “as a whole” we reap what we sow (I did say as a whole because I know it is not always the case), I really believe that one has to be active in generating one’s luck. You will never win the lottery if you never buy a lottery ticket and you will never get a job if you don’t send out your resume. So I guess the bottom line is that luck is all about perspective and recognizing all the wonderful blessings we have in our lives. I realize that I am truly blessed…

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8 thoughts on “To be lucky or not to be? that is the question…

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, insights and journey. You are a remarkable woman. Life is certainly not fair and can be difficult to understand. Glad that you have such beautiful people around you to lift you up. We are the company we keep and what you have around you says so much about you. God Bless you!

  2. Thank you so much for your insight and inspiring words. You are a warrior who recognizes where her strength comes from, and you bless others around you because of who you are. I consider your friendship a blessing, even with our short acquaintance. You are loved by many. Keep up the good fight, and you will be the lucky one!! Sending prayers and love your way.

  3. It’s true. I never really liked the word lucky – unless you’re playing the slots or the lottery, maybe. In life, where it counts, we’re not lucky – we’re blessed. And you are truly blessed. This uninvited “guest” in your life just needs to be shown the door and you are so courageously doing so, armed with all those blessings you mentioned in your blog (what an arsenal!). Add to that arsenal the skills you have with your psychological modalities like guided imagery and “ANT” control – Kick that intruder’s a** out.

  4. Rachel,
    I feel lucky to know you! I am thoroughly enjoying following your blog posts and keeping up with your thoughts and feelings as you fight this monster! Keep your chin up!
    Love and prayers!
    Cori

  5. Chere Rachel, Merci de partager tes epreuves et émotions. Tu es toujours dans nos pensees et nos prières. Je te souhaite a toi et a ta famille beaucoup de courage et de force. Valerie.

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