I enjoy reading about people with positive attitudes who remain optimistic in the face of serious life challenges. That’s why I liked this essay by Merit Gest on Mamapedia Voices, a website featuring posts from up-and-coming mom bloggers and well-known mom experts. I’m impressed by the way Merit reframed her approach to maintaining good health and viewing the threat of cancer, and I know her words will inspire others.
WHO CHISELED THAT OVER THE DOOR?
Challenging Assumptions. Creating Possibilities.
Ten yeas ago, the assumption was that to find your buddies from high school and connect with them you would have to spend a lot of time doing research by phone. Now, Facebook has created new possibilities to connect people all over the world in moments.
Going back a little farther in time, here’s another assumption that’s changing — and it’s definitely more serious. Twenty years ago, if your mother died from breast cancer, you may have assumed that you were more likely to die from the disease as well. Now genetic testing and preventative surgeries are giving women options to outlive their mothers.
As someone who faced a double threat from both ovarian and breast cancer, I ask myself this question a lot: What’s not possible today that may be possible tomorrow?
I thank my dad for this innate sense of possibility.
Growing up, anytime that I said something like, “I can’t get an A in chemistry,” He had the same answer. “Who chiseled that over the door?”
“Dad, I’m too young to be a sales manager.”
“Dad, you can’t return something after 30 days without a receipt.”
“Dad, I have a 54 percent risk of getting ovarian cancer.”
“Who chiseled that over the door?”
Asking that question over and over throughout my life means that I am constantly challenging assumptions and creating new possibilities.
In 2010, with the news of a genetic mutation on my BRCA 1 gene, the assumption was that I had a 54 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer and I was 87 percent likely to get breast cancer in my lifetime.
After asking the question, I focused on three things. I got clear about what really drives my decisions, I revived my sense of optimism that things will work out and I took initiative and chose to become a “pre-vivor.” Those three things were the keys to new possibilities.
First, I got clear about what drives every decision I make. Anything you can do to help you distill your core values is a good first step when making a decision. The first decision, to do everything possible to aggressively change the path of my health was easy when referenced against my values: legacy, connection, making a difference, freedom and health.
Second, I revived my sense of optimism. With any bad news it’s hard to immediately think from a place of optimism. People come out of the woodwork to tell you their horror stories. Not wanting to be “Pollyanna” about the topic, but also not willing to hear stories of doom and gloom, I made a choice to focus on getting the data I would need to ensure a positive outcome. There is no shortage of amazing women to talk to who had been down the path and felt fantastic in the end.
You can only make decisions based on the information you have and while the Internet makes it easier to search, medical lingo makes it difficult to understand. It was only after consulting with more than twenty women, nine surgeons and reading countless posts in chat rooms on HysterSisters.com, Be Bright Pink.com, and several other sites that I felt totally comfortable that I was asking the right questions, uncovering all my options and able to make the best decisions for me.
Getting a second opinion from a surgeon (well, a fifth opinion in my case) led me to a much better decision for me. Hey, I didn’t marry the first guy I dated, I wasn’t about to let the first surgeon I met take out my uterus! Second opinions are important to this process – and if you’re not convinced, see this great video at Give Me a Second.com.
Third, I took action to fight the cancer as if I already had the diagnosis and as a result became a “pre-vivor.” Cancer survivors bravely fight and win the battle against their disease. Pre-vivors fight the same battle, but they do it before the cancer shows up to the party.
Of course, not all women will make the same choice I made, but all women can take the time to get a second opinion.
In the end, it worked. Today, my risk of both cancers is less than 2 percent. I don’t know what will kill me, but I have a pretty good idea of what won’t.
Chisel THAT over the door.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
If you feel more stressed than blessed . . . if you have more confusion than clarity about how to live your beliefs . . . if you long to live a richer, happier, more meaningful life . . . you will find a wealth of insight and guidance in Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World.
Through God’s Eyes is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the only book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
Readers everywhere are discovering that when you challenge yourself to look through God’s eyes, the world around you changes, and so do you.
Who will benefit from reading Through God’s Eyes?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to be.
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to.
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier.
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SEE EVERY MOMENT AS A GIFT
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THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
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Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents.
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In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• How do you reconcile the “free will vs. Divine Will” conundrum?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?
Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.
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