Dealing with Adversity

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.

36 thoughts on “Dealing with Adversity

  1. Wonderful post, Abigail – and yes, I have to agree that being diagnosed with a terminal disease qualifies as adversity!
    I love your question: “What is it about adversity that burns away the fluff and distills us down to the essence of what makes us human?” In the first project I did about Ease, I discovered that pretty much every author had discovered Ease after a crisis – and I also wondered why.
    Perhaps it’s like ‘tempering’ iron or steel by immersing it in water to cool and harden it in super quick time – sometimes the item is destroyed, and sometimes it comes out stronger.
    Just a thought! 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So very true!! I find that because I tend to put a brave face on and get done what needs to get done no matter the cost to me, that I’m more often misunderstood. Trying to be more open about those unseen costs we carry every day. 🙂

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  2. Excellent post, Abigail. It resonated with me on so many levels, from friends showing their true colours to the most beautiful people have known defeat and suffering who keep moving forward in the face of fear. I also find energy in seeing others open their hearts and being vulnerable. After reading your post, I feel less stressed about my upcoming blood test this Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was so well written. I can’t believe somedays how I made it through, but I did. My life was forever changed. I always said what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger and God will never give me more then I can handle. c an I say I’m a BRICK house LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! This is a GREAT one! I was just saying this to someone who experienced a loss recently, that will affect the rest of his life. He’s at the beginning of something I’m rounding 20 years on, and the one thing I could say is that his experience would make him appreciate so many things people take for granted in life.

    I truly think my life would be half-lived, if I hadn’t gone through so much of what I have. It has helped so many people in so many different ways over the years. I try to always remember that when I’m able to help someone through something, or give them perspective, it’s a way that my late husband continues to live, through me, sharing his story and impacting people’s lives.

    I can only hope when my time is up on earth, something I shared, said or did will continue to affect the world in a good way. Maybe through my kids. Maybe through someone else. But it matters. That much I know.

    And when I picture people getting up despite everything, and the world saying, “Oh crap! Look out! She’s up!” the minute your feet hit the floor, I see YOU. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing. While I am a woman of faith, as a terminal cancer patient, I would caution you to be careful about who you share this with. God does not promise that we won’t have trials. God does not promise health. Just because we believe in Him and follow His commandments does not mean that we will get what we think we want. It is important to share the full and accurate picture rather than focusing on one potential outcome.

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