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Life Redefined: Dancing in the Rain

Post Published: 05 July 2011
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Category: Column, Life Redefined, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults Column
This post currently has 13 responses. Leave a comment

Not long ago, a friend gave me a card with a message penned inside that really made me think. It said, “Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain!” That’s probably a cliché that we’ve all heard on multiple occasions, but for some reason, this time it meant something to me.

I have vivid memories of playing in the rain when I was a kid. The summer storms that would pour down rain were an opportunity for me and my friends to have some fun.  When the rain started to fall, my first instinct was never to run inside, but rather to run out into the rain, to let it fall down on my face. Pure joy was an immediate result.

At some point that changed. I’m not sure exactly when, but eventually I lost the instinct to dance in the rain. Instead, I started to run from it. I forgot the joy that can come from playing in the rain.

I’ve been thinking about living with cancer. It’s been the biggest storm in my life thus far. Once I really started deliberating over the message my friend shared with me, I realized that I’ve been forgetting to dance in this rain. I realized that I have the choice to seek happiness. I don’t think that means that I rejoice over cancer. It doesn’t mean that I get giddy every time I go to the doctor. I do, however, think it means that I can still live a life with happiness in spite of cancer. There are still reasons in my life for me to dance. The presence of cancer does not have to negate the presence of joy. The two are not mutually exclusive!

But let me be frank: finding the joy is HARD for me. I have to make a conscious effort to look for it and find it and celebrate it. It is a daily decision that does not come easily because cancer can so easily overshadow the joy.

I recently talked to a cancer survivor who was given a few months to survive. Over six years later, against all odds, she’s in remission. The effects of cancer on her body are obvious—she now only has one leg. Yet in spite of that, in spite of the devastation caused by illness, she’s dancing. She is choosing to find the joy.

Today I am making the decision to do the same. Yes, cancer is a raging black cloud in my life, but I want to be able to dance in the rain. I want the joy that comes from remembering the good in my life.

So what do you think? Do we all have a reason to dance in the rain? Can we all find bits of happiness in life even when dealing with illness on a daily basis? Even more importantly, HOW do we start to dance? Talk to me, peeps. I want to hear from you!

xoxo,

Joanna

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13 Responses to “Life Redefined: Dancing in the Rain”

  1. I started my cancer journey last October with surgery early January. ( I wrote a post here a few months ago about “Has Anyone Seen my Neck?”)….. So I know that joy can be lost when you have the big C.

    Yet, I can tell you that if you give yourself permission to LIVE again then you will be able to “Dance in the Rain”. I truly think I began to LIVE again when I decided that I was no longer a victim of cancer. That I was nothing special. Cancer invades the body and psyche of thousands and I just needed to learn to accept it and go on.

    I am glad I did. I started to find joy with my family, friends and make plans for the future. I went to the library and began to take out travel books and novels I wanted to read but couldn’t before because my concentration was poor. I started to really exercise, paint my home and clear out the mental and physical garbage I had collected. I also “deleted” fake and/or “fair weather friends”. Each person I know who has lived with the BIG C has said that the loss of friendships was almost as painful as learning about the cancer itself. I agree. I held close those who were helpful and positive and “deleted” those who were not supportive or negative. It liberated me beyond measure.

    I hope this post helps and that you find what gives you joy soon. Dance in the rain my friend.. its’ only “water”.

    • Thank you so much, Louise. As I look back on my life with cancer (coming up on three years), I realize that I never was really void of joy in my life. There have just been times where I forgot to focus on it, or times where I chose not to focus on it because it was easier to focus on cancer.

      I love what you have to say about surrounding yourself only with people who really support you. That has been crucial for me, too. Especially when I’m not feeling up to par, I cannot use up my energy on people who are not truly supporting me. Concentrating on the people who truly are loving and supporting has helped me so much, too.

      I’m so glad you’ve found your joy. Thank you for sharing!

      xo,
      Joanna

  2. Hypogirl says:

    I have that feeling about my disease in general. I just realized a few weeks ago that I am really the only one standing in my way. I am keeping myself from dancing in the rain. But I just didn’t realize it. So – I stepped outside and immediately jumped in a puddle. While I am still not perfect – I am much more forgiving of myself and not to overly critical. Which is very HARD for me also. I tend to compare compare compare myself against healthy people who seem to not have a care in the world. I wanted to be like that. Things happened in the last few weeks that made me realize that WE ALL have our hangups and we can’t define ourselves by our disease. While they play a HUGE part in our lives – we need to define ourselves with our personalities! I believe I have lost myself over the course of a few years. I am learning to take a step back and relearn all the things that I have loved and that includes myself as an individual. It will definitely be a bumpy road- but I feel with a little bit of drive I can turn things into a wonderful Sun shower! I wish you both continued growth and strength on your journeys.

    • HG, what a beautiful and profound moment you’ve described. I remember realizing that though I had carefully surrounded myself with people who would hold me up and encourage me, I was still in my own way. I had to get out of my way so I could start to get going with life!!

      What a great realization to come by. I’m so glad you’ve experienced it and are jumping in the puddles. We are not our diseases!

      xo,
      Joanna

  3. Jen says:

    I needed your post today. With the whispers of my cancer returning, you reminded me that I need to keep living and looking for the little things that make me smile, and the only person who can do that is me. I’ve learned to stick up for myself when I feel like I’m not being heard, but I need to really put myself first and that includes my happiness. Thank you for sharing Joanna, you are an inspiration.

    • Dear Jen. Your life is precious and worth pursuing those little things that make you smile. I’m so glad you’re remembering that today. I, too, need that reminder so very often.

      Supporting you and walking with you!

      xo,
      Joanna

  4. Scott Rose says:

    Joanna: May I have this dance?

  5. Anna says:

    Thanks Joanna,

    Appreciating each moment and still dancing!

    Anna

  6. Angie says:

    Thank you for the reminder, also that legs aren’t necessarily needed to dance the day away! I’m a yoga teacher, and as soon as I have my normal energy back, I am offering free workshops around my city about cancer awareness, and a major segment includes what you mention. We all need to be more aware of how to respond in speech when we learn someone has cancer. I too, experienced silence, and sometimes “my heart breaks for you”, or “I’m so sorry”. They all left me feeling weighted, and like I then had to spend extra energy explaining to them that I wasn’t having a pity-party for myself. For me, simple acknowledgment was the best response. Or: “Oh, I can understand that you are going through a lot, and what can I do to help you?” Or even “Stay strong, and I am sending you healing energy.” Any additional ideas for what you most appreciated or disliked hearing? Thank you for your post-my favorite one so far.

  7. Angie, thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate them so very much.

    I love that you’re using something you love (yoga) as a vehicle to raise awareness about thyroid cancer! Like you, I’ve had many responses from people that leave me feeling heavy and burdened. We need this kind of awareness–what to say to a cancer survivor when you really don’t know what to say. I actually wrote a post about this a little over a year ago. Check it out: http://dearthyroid.org/life-redefined-keep-your-spirit-fingers-to-yourself/

    xo,
    Joanna

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