Why I Chose To Beat - Not Fight Against - Cancer

My affirmation during my healing journey through Stage 2 breast cancer

On 19th April 2017, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, without having any family history of the disease. I returned home from the hospital that night and posted a “Keep Calm & Beat Breast Cancer” image on my social media (I’ve been a fan of the theme for a few years), and a few days later I designed my own affirmation: “I am beating cancer”.

As a life coach, I’m highly aware of the power that our mindset has in shaping our experience; for example, if we choose to be happy, we will more easily feel happy than if we had chosen otherwise, given the same set of circumstances. And I didn’t intend to just given in to cancer but to do my utmost to overcome it.

However, it wasn’t just my general preference for positivity that instinctively came into play when I chose how to express my intent following my shock diagnosis. I specifically chose the word “beat” and deliberately rejected “fight” - the verb most associated with cancer patients - as our exact words also significantly impact our experience.

In my case, I firstly rejected “fight” as I’m not naturally aggressive; I identify myself as being graceful, and fighting simply doesn’t resonate with me generally given its association with violence in my mind.

I later printed my affirmation on to a t-shirt to participate in Cancer Research UK’s “Race For Life” 5 km event

Secondly, I believe that we embody the energy of whatever mindset we adopt: if we think we’re “ill”, we’ll subconsciously start to experience feeling more ill; if we think we’re “helpless”, we’ll automatically increase our feelings of helplessness. I rejected “fight” as I didn’t want to feel that I’m in an ongoing confrontation with cancer; that would have been very exhausting for me! My general preference is to feel at peace and not unsettled, so I chose a word that reflects victory and celebration to always empower me to feel on top of cancer regardless of the circumstances, rather than feel like I’m in a persistent state of struggle against it.

Finally, I chose to not fight cancer as this implied to me that there would be a winner and a loser after some competition, and I absolutely intended to defeat cancer whatever the final physical outcome!

Whilst I still didn’t know my prognosis to confidently assert that I’d make a full recovery, I nonetheless knew that in the event of terminal cancer and consequent potential death, I didn’t want to be remembered as yet another person who’d (bravely) fought cancer as is often said in such cases; I wanted my legacy to be that I’d still prevailed over the disease, despite of dying.

I was adamant to face my potential final challenge with all the positivity that I’d ever been known for, and wanted to be remembered for triumphing over cancer - at least in non-physical terms, if it wasn’t also going to be possible on the physical level. I believed that I would defeat cancer:

  • every time I smiled, despite of being ill.
  • each day I continued living with hope of healing and maintained my positive attitude.
  • every time I picked myself up after crying from fear and/or pain and determinedly resumed my journey towards healing.
  • each day I didn’t curse cancer.
  • every time I didn’t get angry at God for having cancer.
  • every time I openly shared my cancer experience without shame or embarrassment (which I immediately started doing through a blog the very next day after receiving my diagnosis).
  • every time I inspired others in any way through my experience with cancer

And so a few months on from my diagnosis, rather than feeling like I’m on the receiving end of what cancer has to offer, I instead feel that I have the upper hand in this relationship. Whatever happens to me physically, I’ve insured that I can never lose any battle with the disease by not deeming it a worthy opponent in the first place.

I invite you to decide what positive feeling you’d most like to experience during any challenge you may be facing, and affirm this daily. By so doing, you will subconsciously begin embodying this feeling, which will influence how you experience the challenge.

Whatever you put after “I am” in your thoughts or words will ultimately become your actual experience!

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