Debbie Ford talks with Oprah on Feb. 19's Super Soul Sunday (11 a.m. Sundays on OWN Network)
Her doctor’s grim diagnosis was one that nobody ever wants to year – the big “C” – cancer. Stunned, shaken, the co-author of The Shadow Effect, written with Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, says she didn’t understand – and became furious. After all, she’s devoted her life to helping others.
“It is my mission day after day to find new ways to inspire others to go on this lifelong journey to clean up their past, to forgive themselves for their flaws and shortcomings, to make peace with their humanity and allow themselves to be guided by a power greater than themselves,” she says.
“So, yes, I was mad at God because of the cancer diagnosis. I thought I should have been protected because of the work I do in the world.”
Ford is a New York Times bestselling author who has penned a number of books, including The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse, The Right Questions and The Best Year of Your Life.
She teaches courses on forgiveness and spirituality. She’s the sort of mom who was delighted when her son, Beau, startled everyone by announcing he was giving every cent of whatever money that friends and family might give for his bar mitzvah to help build a school in a small village inUganda.
Beau and mom, Debbie Ford
She jumped into his project, helping him make a video, which she
posted on her website – resulting in the then-13-year-old raising $80,000, enough to build not one, but two schools.
She takes a certain motherly pride that the idea caught on with some of Beau’s friends deciding their celebrations —not only bar mitzvahs but also regular birthday parties — should mean more than simply accumulating gifts. They, too, donated their gifts for similar projects.
“Congruence, integration, responsibility and integrity are the values that I stand for,” she says as she puzzles with why God would allow her to have cancer. “Within ourselves, there are voices that provide us with all the answers that we need to heal our deepest wounds, to transcend our limitations, to overcome our obstacles or challenges, and to see where our soul is longing to go. Training people to go beyond their minds for direction in order to connect with these voices within is at the core of everything I teach.”
So, how could God allow somebody as nice as her to come down with cancer?
“I was angry at God because I felt betrayed,” she admits. “I always felt like if I lived in true authentic self-expression and lived in service and in support of many other people, I would be exempt from having to deal with yet another crisis in my life. I was wrong.”
She revealed the diagnosis publicly for the first time, talking about it to Oprah Winfrey on “Super Soul Sunday” last Sunday.
“For the last year and a half,” she admitted candidly, “I have been engaged in a fierce battle for my health and well-being. I am not technically in remission but I am what is considered ‘stable disease,’ which means that my tumors have not grown or advanced in the last year.”
Apparently she’s had it for almost 11 years, according to her doctor, but only in the last year or so has she been feeling the worst effects.
A few of Debbie Ford's books
“I am trying a number of targeted therapy drugs — not chemotherapy — aimed at shrinking the tumors. There aren’t many drugs for this
because it’s such a rare form of cancer but every day they are testing new drugs and I trust that one will be proven to not just shrink the tumors but to eliminate them.”
What has such a horrific experience taught her?
“None of us are immune to life’s challenges,” she says. “We all have them. They show up in different forms. Sometimes it happens in our careers, our relationships or getting involved with the wrong people. Instead of using these experiences to beat ourselves up, we have the opportunity to open our hearts and be compassionate with ourselves.”