Seven months ago now, my mother, Shirley Lee was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. We have received amazing news. A little more than a month ago, my mother was pronounced in remission!
Here is a letter she has written on her battle with cancer. I hope it provides you with as much inspiration it did me:
I was informed seven months ago of my diagnosis with Stage IV terminal cancer and started shaping my plans to leave my beloved school in order to initiate treatment. Since then, the expressions of compassion, encouragement and support have been overwhelming.
Well, I now have some very wonderful news to share with you. My last two pet-CT scan results, how doctors screen for cancerous cells in our body, were very very good. The doctor pronounced me “in remission.” For a cancer patient, this is as good as it gets.
While this news is amazing and wonderful, cancer is an insidious disease and can sometimes come back. Therefore, I must remain vigilant and focus on sustaining these positive results.
The journey from the time I was first diagnosed with metastatic cancer, with estimated three month to live, to a state of “remission” has been about seven long months. Like anybody else, when I was first diagnosed, I was in shock and completely devastated. How could this be? I’m so healthy and fit. Plus, this timing could be any worse! After all, the beginning of the school year is the busiest time ever.
Therefore, with the eagerness to get well, I accepted the treatment my oncologist arranged for me without asking too many questions and fully anticipated returning to work immediately after. After two rounds of chemo treatments, however, I lost my strength. I felt frail and totally defeated. All the doctors could say was that the chemo treatment would reduce the severity of cancer and prolong my life. I realized at that point that there was no cure.
Afterwards, it was difficult to maintain a semblance of hopefulness. I was suspended in limbo, and at a complete loss at how to plan my future. Was I supposed to plan for a life of six months, a year, five years, 10 years? Suddenly, I saw an end to what I was convinced would be ever-lasting. Neither school nor my vast experience in life ever taught me how to plan a future filled with so many unknown variables. How was I supposed to move forward? The array of emotions sank in, depression, uncertainty, fear, hopeless and anxiety……
Looking back now, what pulled me out of this dark hole and helped me gather the courage to maintain a positive outlook was my inner strength and passion for life. As a child growing up in Taiwan, I was immersed in the teaching, learning and practice of “Eight Virtues + One” at home and in school. The “Eight Virtues + One” has served as my guiding light through my many trials and tribulations in life, and this was to be no exception.
“yi-義” helped me to find the confidence and the guts to face the fight against cancer. “xiao-孝” and “li-禮” allowed me the courage to deliberate on and choose an unconventional treatment. “ren-仁” and “ai-愛” taught me how to gladly and freely accept everybody’s thoughtful encouragement and assistance. “zhong-忠” supported me in staying focused on and disciplined with my treatment choice. “he-和” and “ping-平” helped me to find my inner strength to create a healthy mindset, which was essential for healing.
Every day over the past seven months, I have devoted a full day’s work to practicing qigong, learning more about the philosophy, training my mind to concentrate on healing imagery, and focusing my energy to activate my self-healing system. With the passion to live a productive life and the determination and discipline to succeed, I have seen the fruits of my labor and the reward of being able to live is just priceless.