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Take Control of Your Journey

by Lynda Peterson

Inspiration image

What do you do when you’re given a cancer diagnosis? After you get over the shock and the air returns to your lungs, after your soul returns to your body and you no longer feel as if you’re floating above watching the scene un­fold beneath you, do you feel sad? Yes. Scared? Yes. Confused and paranoid? Yes. Do you feel sorry for yourself? Yes. At least for about three sec­onds. Then you have a choice: put your head in the sand and wait to die, or hold your head up high, sum­mon the courage that is deep in your soul, and show yourself and the world just what you’re made of. You get on with the business of healing.

I chose to never give up, to fill my heart with love, to take control of the new journey I found myself on, and to embrace every day.

I chose to embrace every day.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have bad days where fear envelopes my mind and my body like a noose around my neck. Some days the noose is tight and I feel cold chills, as I can almost feel the fibers scratching my neck, and my para­noia mounts, wondering if the newest little pain or dizzy spell is a sign of the cancer returning and flooding new places in my body.

But most days, the noose is gone, and in its place is an awakening of the senses. Colors are brighter, smells are sweeter, the chill of the winter air is inviting, and I feel the healing warmth of the sun. I take nothing for granted – not a person, a moment, the sight of a tiny finch perched in a tree, or a squir­rel scavenging in my bird feeder. I am inspired by the youthful exuberance in my students. I’m rejuvenated and invigorated by the sound of my chil­dren’s voices and by the deep love I see in my husband’s eyes. I instantly relax at the smell of my dog’s feet when she sleeps. I laugh more and stress less.

I appreciate life on a new level. Not that I took it for granted before, but when you live with uncertainty, you are more aware, more determined to make the most of every day.

I love to travel, but cancer isn’t a journey you can pack for like a trip to the beach. Sandals and a wide-brimmed hat are out; courage and faith are in.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Lynda Peterson is a teacher, wife, mother, and two-time lymphoma survivor living in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Learn more about Lynda at

Excerpted with permission from The Healing Journal: Taking Control of Your Journey Through Cancer, by Lynda Peterson, copyright © 2011.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2013.