The dictionary meaning of Adversity is as follows:
Adversity; noun; adverse or unfavorable fortune or fate; 1. a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress: Friends will show their true colors in times of adversity. 2. an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance: You will meet many adversities in life.https://www.dictionary.com/browse/adversity
I’d say that being diagnosed with a terminal illness qualifies as adversity. And yet, I have met the most amazing, the most compassionate, and the most badass men and women since I started getting to know people in the metastatic community. What is it about adversity that burns away the fluff and distills us down to the essence of what makes us human?
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
And there it is — the crucible of adversity reveals the core of a person, it can train a person to be a better version of themselves, if only we let it.
Facing adversity inspires fear, sometimes the fear of the unknown, and sometimes the fear of what has already happened happening again or becoming worse. And yet, courage in the face of adversity, in the face of the fear that adversity inspires is how we keep going.
It is courageous each time I step foot in the cancer center to continue to get life saving mediation that causes side effects and make me miserable.
It is courageous to get testing done that may either tell me that I am dying faster or that the cancer is held at bay.
It is courageous to get my blood drawn each month knowing that I may get good or bad news.
It is courageous each time I meet with my doctors not knowing if they will make my day with good news or destroy my hard won confidence with bad news.
It is courageous to answer the phone when I see my cancer center is calling because I never know what I will be told.
It is courageous to open the mail because it may contain documentation of yet another battle with insurance or the billing departments or the cancer center or someone else who wants to take something away from me again.
It is courageous to get out of bed in the morning since I never know how I will feel each day.
It is courageous to take my medication each morning and night, knowing what side effects are coming.
It is courageous to log on to social media and go to my cancer support groups because I never know if I will hear about a death of a dear friend or a dear friend’s bad news or a dear friend’s epic struggle against cancer or depression or anxiety.
It is courageous to enter into relationships with people who are actively dying.
It takes courage each and every day to overcome the adversity of this life I live. Courage that requires me to stare adversity and death and struggle and hardship in the face and yet choose to keep going forward, keep going to the cancer center, keep answering the phone and opening the letters and entering into the morass that is life while dying.
I see this courage every day, not just in myself, but in all the people around me who keep going despite everything in their lives. Seeing others around me doing this every day gives me the energy to keeping going, to keep entering in, to keep being vulnerable and opening up my heart.