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Life Redefined: Conflicted

Post Published: 26 October 2011
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Category: Column, Life Redefined, Thyroid Cancer in Young Adults Column
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A couple weeks ago I went to my offline cancer support group. This group meets once a month and is a treasure to me. I love the people in this group and I love the encouragement and knowledge they bring.At our group meeting this month I was fiercely reminded of how conflicting life can be. A four year old child was given the report of  “no evidence of disease.” We love to hear NED and our group rejoiced over this news. But a six year old child was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two different types of brain cancer. Both types are inoperable. I was hit with the sadness of the reality that, barring a miracle, this child will die. This is what I mean by conflicting. One person’s blood work shows counts are in range. Another person’s ultrasound shows new lumps. One clean scan. Another scan showing tumors. Rejoicing. Weeping.

These emotions are conflicting yet they have to exist side by side because that is what life dictates. Sometimes I have a hard time with this. How can rejoicing and sadness coexist? What does that look like in my life?

Personally speaking, feeling those emotions that surround bad news keeps me grounded; it reminds me about the realities and hardships that we face in life. On the other hand, allowing myself to rejoice in good news reminds me that life is still good and that moving forward is the only way I can go if I want to truly live. The stark contrast of these emotions can create a conflict that cries out for reconciliation. But maybe the conflict shouldn’t be reconciled. Maybe the conflict is what allows us to feel and breathe and live.

Life isn’t fair and I have to stop pretending like it is. People of all ages are going to get cancer and people of all ages are going to die because of it. Life is not fair. But that doesn’t mean I stop living my life. That doesn’t mean I stop rejoicing over the good news and it doesn’t mean I stop crying over the bad news. I don’t have answers to the questions about why one person is healed but another person dies. I can’t even pretend to understand. But I do know that I will continue to rejoice over the healing and I will continue to weep over the death. I don’t have a good answer on how to allow those conflicting emotions to exist simultaneously, but I know that they must if I want to live authentically.

I would love for you to weigh in on this matter. How do you deal with conflicting emotions in your own life? How do you allow grief and happiness to coexist? How do you deal with the unfairness of life? I want to hear from all of you!

xo,
Joanna

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