How could I possibly say cancer is a gift? Let me explain. As horrible as cancer is, it is also a wake up call. Sometimes we need those in our lives.

These wake up calls bring self care to the forefront of our minds when before we would have brushed it aside. They force us to contemplate what is most important to us and to face the reality of mortality. They encourage us to reach out for help and to find that loved ones and even strangers are there to support us. They force us to dive deep within our souls for the strength we need to survive or to gracefully let go.

Years ago, a dear friend of mine who had struggled emotionally her whole life passed quickly of Leukemia. However, during her time of suffering from cancer, she experienced a profound peace and sense of purpose. She demonstrated to everyone around her that it is possible to heal within and yet surrender to what she knew to be her time. She confided in me that the purpose of her illness was to prepare her friends for the death of their parents. She arose from her bed during her last days on earth to get me a glass of water. She used her cancer as an opportunity to grow in and love and service.

In September of 2015, I learned that I had breast cancer. Throughout my initial shock and subsequent treatment, I learned that I had been given a gift. It was time to tend to my inner and outer self and it was okay to do so. It was like being given a permission slip to be good to myself. I found that I had all the support I needed…from God, family, and friends, including breast cancer survivors who freely shared their experiences and knowledge with me. I learned that I was stronger than I thought.

Now I have the opportunity to mentor another woman who is going through this journey. I spoke with her last night and rejoiced that my experience can benefit someone else.  Yes, sometimes even cancer can be a Gift on the Journey.