Thursday, March 17, 2011

Do You Believe in Luck?

"Mama," my 5-year old daughter asked me very seriously, "Is luck real?"

"Oh, definately," I answered, without skipping a beat. "For sure."

I know so, because I'm lucky. Some people aren't. Well I guess all people have luck, it just depends what kind you've got.

There's good luck, there's bad luck, there's hard luck, there's tough luck, there's lady luck and then there's potluck.

By the strictest definitons of luck, there's not much we can do about it. Luck is the things that happen to us beyond our control. Luck is all chance, it isn't up to us. It's the things other people bring to the potluck, not what we put on the table.

There was a kid in my grade one class who was always finding four-leaf clovers. She was pretty and petite with freckles and shiny hair and her mom always dressed her in homemade calico dresses and very clean white knee socks. She was very much the opposite of me and never got shushed by our teacher or sent out into the hallway or ripped holes in her jeans jumping off the swing set. That kind of irked me about her. But what really really irked me, was the way she always found four-leaf clovers. I wanted one. But did I find one? Ever? No! Never!

I'd get down in the clover with her and look and look for all of fifty-five seconds before racing off to the monkey-bars to swing upside down and I never even found one. And then she'd come strolling in from recess with the delicate thing held carefully in her palm for the hundreth time in a row and press it in the pages of her textbook with her other ones. How lucky can you get?

Well, Dear Reader, today you're in luck. Because I've decided, for once, to at least try to be concise.

So here it is:

I think a lot of things in our lives are completely out of our control. Like where we are born, who raises us, whether or not we have lovely long legs or enough to eat.

But I think the things that matter most of all are within our control -- whether we approach life with an open heart, whether we isolate ourselves from those who are willing to be our friends, whether we eat crap or wholesome food, whether we hurry or take our time, whether we approach the world with a loving, open heart or with fear and disdain -- that kind of thing.

What this all has to do with me and luck is that whole cancer thing. There's a lot of evidence that says it's not my fault. It's just bad luck.

But I want to change my luck.

There's a lot of evidence that shows that people who eat well and excercise are less likely to get cancer and much more likely to survive it. Lucky them. Lucky me.

And there's also evidence that shows that people who undergo therapy -- the pscycological kind -- after a cancer diagnosis are way less likely to have a reoccurence. That sounds lucky.

I am a fruit and vegetable eater. I am an active woman and a belly laugher. I have always felt that cancer should be for other people. When I was diagnosed it was with the promise that I would be cured. What luck!

This time last year I made a promise to spend a year healing in the most concerted way I could. I have. But there's more to do.

Like anyone else who has ever been diagnosed with cancer I'm sure, I've spent a good deal of time asking, why me? What have I done?

I read a really good book: "When The Body Says No" by Gabor Mate. I heard him on the CBC talking about how diseases are passed on in families. It's not necessarily genetics, he postulates. It may have something to do with your personality -- not whether you have a good one or a bad one, just the way you process the pain you've felt in your life. How do you deal with trauma? Do you internalize it in some way that let's you get by without really letting go of it?

I think that's what I do. I always have done that. I've taken great pride in being a happy person. But I it might come at too high a personal cost. I think I invest too much psychic effort in trying to be unscathed by this world. I think it's time for me to look more carefully at the very scathed parts of me and to own them.

When I was diagnosed, that's the thing that hurt most -- I knew I wouldn't die, I knew things wouldn't even really have to change. It was simply the realization that I wasn't unscathed, not at all. And there's so many people that I didn't tell about it because I just didn't want people to think of me like that -- damaged, afflicted, unlucky.

Who isn't damaged? And why should we feel so deeply ashamed of it?

What I'm saying is that I know what my next step must be -- I want therapy. I want to let go of past traumas and especially the shame of being traumatized. I want to let go of whatever dysfunctions I've internalized. I want to lose weight -- emotional weight. I think my life could depend on it.

Thomas Jefferson famously said, "I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

I'm gonna work on it.

Wish me luck,


  1. Good for you for listening to what your body is saying. I feel like I spend most of my time silencing my body in different ways (mainly ignoring it or eating!), and as you say it so nicely here, there comes a time when listening to it is due, and with that, a good cleanse. Thanks for this, and of course, good luck!

  2. Yes! Good for you. Therapy has been a transformative experience for me, and I hope it is for you, as well.

  3. Thanks Mama Mo. You`ve inspired me. If you can do it, I probably can too!

  4. Good luck.

    I hope that you find the emotional weight loss you need. :)

  5. Wishing you lots of the good luck stuff! I'm on a similar path, especially after watching my mom go through a traumatic year w/cancer/psychosis.
    From the outside, I see you as a warrior, stronger and more open hearted because of your experience!


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