R is for Resilience

15 Mar

I still feel sleep-deprived, but this week has been very hectic with little chance to get a regular amount of sleep, much less any extra.  I shouldn’t feel so comforted by the fact that all of you are suffering from a lack of sleep, but it really does make me feel better to know I am not alone!  :)  Maybe we can all catch up this weekend and start next week fresh as daisies!

Do you think resilience is a type of personality trait or characteristic you are born with or is it something you can develop?

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

I think it’s something you can develop, although I do think some people are more prone to being resilient than others possibly because of their upbringing or things they observed and learned as a child.  No matter what, I believe that anyone has the power to be resilient – especially if you are a Christian and believe in the power of God to restore you mentally, physically, and spiritually after major (or even minor) setbacks.

Resilience is defined as “the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched.”  Dictionary.com also explains it as the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like.”

If cancer patients don’t have a need for resilience, I don’t know who does.  We’ve been bent, compressed, and stretched about as far as we can go.  One minute you are cruising right along.  Life is good.  Your job is going great.  Your family life is sweet.  You’re happy and content.  And then, out of no where, you get the call.  Something’s not quite right.  We need to look closer.  And before you know it, the rug is yanked out from under you and you are lying flat on your back looking at the world from a completely different angle.  Things are so different that you wonder if things will ever be the same.

Being resilient, having a positive mindset that pushes you to restore yourself to health and life is absolutely crucial for cancer patients.

My dad has a saying whenever something happens – a mistake, a big problem, a bit of a crisis.  He’ll say, “it’s a small setback in a big operation.”  I can’t remember how many times I heard that growing up, and still hear it from him.  He never means it to diminish the experience or belittle what I’m feeling.  What he means is that it’s a setback and it needs to be viewed as such.

A setback is not a permanent condition.  It is a pause, a step backwards from the direction we were headed.  But there is nothing that says we have to stay there.

I think there’s such truth in that wisdom.  I’m not saying that cancer is a minor setback, because it can feel HUGE and it is HUGE.  But if we allow it to hold us back from recovering and rebounding to the person we were before (or possibly even becoming better than the person we were before!), we are selling ourselves short.

Maybe we need to think of cancer as a minor setback, a bump in the road in an otherwise fabulous life?  If we believe that we will always be the way we are during treatment, that we will never feel better, that we will always have the “C” hanging over our heads, then we will not be resilient.  We will hold ourselves back from the life that is waiting for us.  It may not be the same life that we left months ago, but it can be a good life.

This can be challenging for those of us who are not “cured,” who do not receive a definitive, “you are cancer free” from our doctors, but I think it’s important all the same.  Once we finish our primary treatment and return to some sense of normalcy, if we continue to allow cancer to invade our thoughts and distract us from the beauty that is all around us, we will be missing out.  And we certainly don’t want to miss out because as cancer patients, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that life is precious and we must savor every second of it.

Here’s to a Terrific Thursday for each and every one of you!
♥ Rachel

7 Responses to “R is for Resilience”

  1. tranquilmomentsphotography March 15, 2012 at 7:56 am #

    I have always believed that God does not but any burden on our shoulders than we are not able to handle. He must think you are a strong person Rachel. When you find your burden too heavy, don’t be afraid to lean on others to help you support that burden. I have not had Cancer personally, but my idol in life, my Dad lost the battle to it 19 years ago. It truly does open your eyes and give you a different mindset…. a better appreciation for the “little things’ in life. Wishing your bumps in the road to be wee ones. Have a Terrific Thursday.
    p.s. I like your Dad’s quote “it’s a small setback in a big operation.” ….so true.

    • rachturner March 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      You know, Daphne, sometimes I think God does give us more than we can handle because it causes us to be more dependent on him. As long as we feel like we can handle everyone on our own then we might think we have no need to pray or seek his help. Thank you for your wish – I like the idea of “wee” bumps! :)

  2. Herdy March 15, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    I needed to hear this today Rachel, thank you so much, I can’t tell you how much this has helped. I have been struggling with how I feel that my life has stopped, but as you say – it’s just for a short time, then I can claim my life back. Thank you for helping me on what was shaping up to be a bad day. Hope you don’t mind, but I have mentioned you on my blog. Much love xx

    • rachturner March 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm #

      I am so glad this helped you, today!! I think so often we, and our medical team, are so focused on the physical side of dealing with cancer that we neglect the emotional side and the toll it can take on it. It’s so important to remember that this does not define us. Cancer is not us, it is simply one experience we are having in our long beautiful lives. I am so thrilled that my little words are helping to make your day better! Here’s to many, MANY more good days for you!!

  3. Susan March 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I wish I could be as positive as you, maybe once I get through this last set of side effects I can try to be more positive. Love your blog.

    • rachturner March 15, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

      Oh, Susan. It breaks my heart when you say that because I sense that you are struggling. There are varying degrees of positivity and it’s not always possible to remain upbeat. I have my tough days, too, and assure you I am not always positive. Sometimes having cancer just stinks and it’s more than my heart and brain want to think about. Go easy on yourself and just focus on getting well. If you can, find one little, tiny thing to feel good about today. Even if it’s the way your tea tastes or the sound of a song you like or the way your blanket feels when you are wrapped up in it taking a nap. For just 1 minute, focus on something good. As you start to look for more and more of these little things, they will begin to push the bad out of your mind. Thank you for reading my blog. I hope that it is more a source of encouragement for you than frustration at what you think you are lacking. Each journey is unique and I think you are doing a wonderful job of walking through yours with dignity and grace.


  1. Struggling Forward | Living through Cancer - March 15, 2012

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