I grew up in a religiously, culturally and gastronomically Jewish home in Willingboro, NJ which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Our family went to synagogue weekly, practiced holiday rituals, lit the candles on Friday night, but kept kosher only when my paternal grandmother lived with us. I attended Hebrew school until I was 16. […]
Each day we are called on to make decisions. What do we want for breakfast? What clothes will we put on? What shoes will cover our feet as we walk out into the world? Even more importantly, what attitude will we wrap around ourselves?
There are choices that may seem inconsequential, like the first few. There are the monumental choices, like the last one. That one is mutable and can flip at the speed of thought. It draws to us what we want and what we don’t want. I set my attitude adjuster before my feet touch the carpeted floor. My intention is to have extraordinary experiences and connect with amazing people and each day I do just that. I know that while I may not have a choice about what goes on around me, I always have the opportunity to decide how I respond to those events and those people with whom I cross paths.
What happens when life deals you a hand of cards that you hadn’t anticipated? How do you navigate what might feel like treacherous waters? For my friend Ondreah Johnson who gave me permission to share her story, the experience of being a woman living with cancer has brought with it innumerable (and the list seems to be growing) decisions. She was diagnosed late last year and underwent treatment in the form of what she calls “IV meds” instead of the traditional name: chemotherapy. She also experienced radiation and a lumpectomy. Thinking that she was in the clear, she still questioned as have many survivors have which is ‘what if it returns?’ And it did. She is back in the treatment cycle and having to make choices about the protocol and the location of her care. She is interviewing various programs that offer services that her current hospital and care team don’t. Both are a distance away. Although she has solid supports with people who take her to appointments and some who stay over after her treatment, and others who provide ancillary healing modalities, there are times when she feels she is in it on her own; adrift on the tide, wondering if she will ever come ashore safely.
Tonight she sent me this message:
“Making decisions.. what do you listen to? heart? mind? pros? cons? lists? others? how do YOU know what’s RIGHT for you !?? Even when so many others, friends etc. may say something different.”
In the circles in which she travels are other survivors. Each one used a combination of interventions; some mainstream medical, some complementary/holistic. Each claim that their way is the right way. Sugar-free, wheat free, anti-inflammatory diet. Yoga, meditation, visualizing healing, using affirmations, praying, experiencing massage, acupuncture, Reiki. Refraining from using language that reinforces the dis-ease. It’s enough to make one’s head spin. Trusting intuition is key. What does her gut tell her? Healing is a body-mind-spirit proposition.
The truth is, we each have the right to make choices that will enhance our quality of life, regardless of the number of tick-tocks of our personal clock. We can consult trusted friends and family members who may steer us in one direction or another. We can listen to the advice of medical professionals who we would like to think provide us the best care at their disposal and then, ultimately, we make the final decision. No one has the right to take that away from us. And the rest is still unwritten.