I’ve long held that the most difficult times of our lives are when are forced in some way to redefine who we are.
We go from being a teenaged high school student in June to a nearly adult college kid in September. Then, in a blink of an eye, we go from college kid to full-time working person [“let’s hope so,” says every parent of a college student].
Change never seems to stop.
Some of us go from single to partnered. Some of us go from partnered to single, and back to partnered again.
Childless to parent. Parent to empty-nester. Then parenting our own parents.
Most of us go from well to ill to well again too many times in our lives to count.
There are also occasions when we go from being an important someone in a job we love to being a jobless nobody whose confidence is shot.
It just keeps coming.
All of these moments are times of profound change and redefinition. These are the challenging moments when we are very likely to ask the question, “Who the hell am I now, after all of this?”
And it’s within the question that possibility lies.
Twenty months ago my friend, writer and coach Dr. Laurie Foley, received the life-changing diagnosis of advanced stage ovarian cancer. She immediately put her work life on hold and threw herself into learning everything she could about cancer. She identified great doctors and partnered with them in her treatment. She told me, “I am going to be the very best patient any of them have ever had.” And she was. She joined support groups, became a regular speaker at a medical school, read research and reports. She even made friends with her health insurance company.
She was all-in in the world of ovarian cancer, and it was rightly her entire focus.
Week before last, when the results of two last tests came in, Laurie found out that – after twenty months of energy and attention – she’s officially in remission.
That was a great day.
It also happened to be a day when I was visiting, so after the squealing, high-fiving, and hugs, Laurie and I talked about What Remission Will Mean. [Oh, and we took the selfie, above.]
“I’m thinking,” Laurie started, “that it really means re-mission. For so long my mission has been ovarian cancer – now I get to find a new one. I get to re-mission.”
There’s that possibility I mentioned earlier.
To consciously choose a new mission. Maybe related to the old one, maybe a totally new one created By Laurie, For Laurie – and to bring her many gifts to the world.
What a promise. What potential in that deft little phrase.
If you’re smack dab in the middle of your own redefinition, this is what you remember. Yes, things have changed. Laurie will never be a person who hasn’t experienced cancer. Me, neither. You may not ever have the same job title, or the same spouse, or the same little ones running through your house using a dishtowel as a superhero cape.
Those moments may, indeed, be gone forever.
But you can always re-mission.
You can find something new, engaging, interesting and fun.
Your possibilities, in fact, are quite endless.