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Resilience Hope and Being a Survivor

BY Susan Bethel
PUBLISHED April 20, 2020
When I first heard the word "resilience" I did not really understand what it meant, I was listening to a presentation about a third world mission trip and about how people survive their hardships there. But now, I personally understand the meaning and am ready to share my journey.

When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I understood what may be ahead, since I am a nurse with many years of experience. The first two years of his journey were stressful, but we had each other, enjoyed our life and worked through the decisions and experience. The turning point was when he his cancer returned, and he started radiation therapy. Then, we hit what felt like a big wall.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I remember sharing this news with him and he stated, "I am stronger than you think" and he proved that to be so true over the next 3 years.

Our journey together is a story of resilience, sharing hope and caring for each other. His cancer involved traveling over 3 hours to a medical center for surgery, needing an artificial airway and nutrition via a feeding tube. We spent our time together going to the local cancer center on separate days for each of our own chemotherapy treatments. As a nurse, I cared for him even during my own radiation treatment period and still kept working at my job as much as possible.

During that time, I kept thinking, is this what it takes to have that resilience? Is resilience what it takes to keep caring, maintaining hope and surviving a day at a time. If you look up the word, " resilience", there are terms like hardiness, strength and toughness. However, I have learned that it means much more.

The experience of a cancer journey together is more than what those words convey. I would often say to myself, " I am stronger than I thought too" not realizing I was beginning to understand resilience. When looking inward, you begin to understand the human spirit and what we face in life cannot truly be explained to others, but only matures every day with every hurdle we tackle and overcome.

I am a widow now and a cancer survivor, who looks back on that time in our lives, with joy of being together, with pride at how we both endured and how much stronger we became because of it. Hope was always in front of us, leading us through each day.

You should never lose hope, because that optimism is what builds the courage that leads to learning what resilience really means.
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