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The 8 Overcoming Tools : How to Overcome Your Fear of a Diagnosis of Cancer

Live One Day At A Time

When I had cancer in 1981 I had to wait two weeks to get a CT scan, so my doctors could determine the best treatment following my initial surgery. Think about that. There I was, with two full weeks ahead of me before I would learn what I assumed was very important information about my condition and how it would affect my treatment and perhaps my life.

The situation that I faced is not unlike the future as it is often presented to us throughout our lives. I had a choice, just as you have a choice right now. There may be nothing we can do to "speed up" some anticipated future event, but we have total control over the way we spend each day.

A good friend, Virgil Jenkins, called and invited me to lunch and said he'd drive me over for the tests. Over lunch, Virgil asked me in a very concerned and caring way, as only a close friend can do, "Hal, what are you going to do if the results of your test aren't as good as you've expected them to be?"

When I looked at him, I could see that his question was prompted by his honest concern that I be prepared for something less than the best news. My answer was this, "Virgil, I know I've just lived through two weeks that could have been pure hell. I could have worried and spent sleepless nights. But I have slept like a baby every night. I've continued working at both of my jobs. I've gone back to classes. And I've even gotten in a couple of rounds of golf. So my answer to your question is that I've been so busy, I haven't had time to think about the test or the results. But I do know this: I've had two of the best weeks I could possibly have asked for."

Sometimes a cancer diagnosis is life's way of getting our attention to focus on today. That's what happened to me. I got the message that every day is so special I couldn't afford to waste even a minute of it. Living one day at a time is the point!

Other than today, this moment, everything else we call living is actually nothing more than memories or dreams.

Of course, I believe in making good memories and dreaming wonderful dreams, but I have found that you can't have pleasant memories unless you were living in the moment while yesterday was here, while yesterday was today! And its equally true that the most hopeful dreams are not inspired by what you are hoping for when you fall asleep, but by how you lived while you were awake during the day.

Let's get practical. What are the steps you can take to stay focused on the day? There are two general ways to relieve yourself of unwanted concern that can interfere with fully enjoying today: accept your past and trust your future. Accept your past. Trust your future. It sounds simple and it is. Accept your past by releasing and letting go of past fears, mistakes and grief. This is a new day. Trust that your future is going to be good by making this day and every day a day you "live in the moment."

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