22: Victor Not Victim

22: Victor Not Victim

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

Victor Not Victim

Turn your wounds into wisdom.
~Oprah Winfrey

I guess we never truly know how tough we are until really tough times peck at our heels and dominate our souls. Sure, everyone has trials and difficulties. Trials and difficulties are a natural part of living, but sometimes those trials are so enormous that we can become disoriented, disillusioned, downright depressed, and caught up in a web of inactivity.

I grew up in a very dysfunctional and abusive family, and I quickly had to learn to either sink or swim. Even though my childhood was an extremely difficult period, I have come to understand that it really did prepare me to face adult difficulties straight up. I learned early on in my life that no matter what happens to me, it is my attitude about what happens to me which either makes me or breaks me.

I know the economy is as bad as it has been in decades, and I also know many people are downright scared about what their future holds. I have heard some people say they just don’t know what they are going to do, and I tell them that when tough times come in my life, I just have to work harder for positive results. I use the fear and negative energy my trials produce to work harder for a positive solution. My parents did not conquer me and neither will my problems.

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in June 2003, and talk about a very tough period in my life. I was devastated and I was scared, and I certainly had many sleepless nights praying to God for strength and to help me beat this thing. But I also took charge and sought out the best surgeon and oncologist I could find. I then double-checked their recommendations with yet other physicians to make sure I was doing the right thing before I underwent major surgery. I had a positive outcome from that surgery, and the pathologists indicated that all of the cancer had been removed. They told me that I had no worries, and to go and have a good life.

But the cancer did return in November of 2004, and I was completely devastated once again. I endured another six-hour surgery, followed by chemotherapy treatments. It took me months to recover from these procedures. My body was so weak and I thought the chemo fatigue would never end, but I took one day at a time and I finally returned to my normal life again. I fought all of the negative thoughts I had during this time, determined that cancer was not going to take me.

I have been cancer-free for over four years now, but recently had to undergo major spinal fusion surgery, with the addition of plates and screws to hold my spine stable and secure. But, hey, these are the medical cards I have been dealt in my life, so I will play them the best way I know how. I refuse to be a victim in all of these health issues. Instead, I choose to be a victor. I truly believe these problems have made me a stronger and better person. They have taught me to be more compassionate for other people, especially those who are sick. And I certainly have a much deeper appreciation for life on a daily basis, and for the love and companionship of my dear family.

Yes, there are rough economic times out there, the job market is unstable, and it is getting very difficult to make ends meet. But so what if I have to do with a little less? So what if my retirement plan is worth forty percent less than it was at this time last year? I am just very grateful I still have my life, and I am also very grateful for how much closer my family and I have grown as a result of my health issues. That is worth much more than a large stock portfolio.

~LaVerne Otis

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