One part of fighting Multiple Myeloma (bone marrow cancer) and Leukemia is that it requires you to be parked in hospitals, anywhere from a week to a month or longer at a time. I realize that I was lucky compared to many who have had to spend much longer periods of time in hospitals, but to me a month became interminable. Don’t get me wrong, the hospitals were great and the nurses and doctors were terrific. However, when they have to wake you up every three hours to check your vitals, draw blood, give you medications, etc, etc, etc, hospitals become the least restful place you have ever been. But I always tried to remember that they were doing their jobs to help me and I tried to show appreciation for it.
I am not a big TV watcher so a “benefit” from all this was that I had lots and lots of quiet time to think. You won’t appreciate how long a night is until you’ve spent time in a hospital bed.
Early in my theater career, I had an experience where a partnership turned bad and I was forced out of it. At the time, it crushed me and I was quite angry at my perceived injustice of it all. I did move on, but I carried the anger inside of me whenever I thought about the situation. And it was a pretty deep anger. I know that mine was hardly a unique situation, but that didn’t matter because it happened to me.
On one of those long nights in the hospital I returned to what happened all those years ago. Then the anger at “how I was done wrong” rose up inside of me again. But this time, the more I thought about it the more I could see some of the reasons why my ex-partner felt and acted the way he did. They were still way out of line, but I could see where he was coming from.
And then it struck me that all this time I had been looking at things the wrong way. I needed to accept that he was who he was, not the way I wanted him to be. I had the power to let all of it go. And I did. At that point it was like the sky opened up over my bed. I’m sure many of you will say “duhh!!” to this, but to me it was a genuine revelation.
Since then I have tried to remember this and live my life more at peace with myself. I don’t always succeed in the short term, but I manage to get there over a little time. I no longer sweat the “small stuff,” I don’t let petty things make me mad, I really try to hold my tongue, and I truly try to appreciate all the good things that I have – which so outweigh any minor inconvenience I am experiencing at the time. And I honestly feel this has been a critical part in me surviving two cancers.