03/14/2013 05:19 EDT | Updated 05/14/2013 05:12 EDT

With Cancer, You Must Accept the Things You Cannot Change

A loving couple kissing - the wife is undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

The second line of the serenity prayer is "to accept the things we cannot change." This sounds really easy but in reality can be quite difficult. Our modern society is more about not being happy with who we are and what we have. Everyday we are bombarded with news and advertising that points out that we either have to worry about things beyond our control or change things that can't be changed.

So we fuss about things like how we look to others, asteroid strikes, wars, terrorism and natural disasters and why with over 33-million people in the country some political parties have representatives with the qualifications of Zippy the Pinhead. We focus so much on these things that we can easily avoid concentrating on ourselves and how we can become better human beings.

A prime example of this is hair. We are each born with hair that is curly or straight, thin or thick, brown, black, blonde etc. However, we spend a good number of dollars adjusting its texture, thickness and colour. I use "adjusting" because we are not really changing our hair only masking its true nature. You cannot watch an evening of TV without seeing at least one advertisement showing how using a particular hair product will change your life and make you a better person.

Another example is cancer. For those of us who contract cancer, we cannot change that fact. No amount of angst about why we got cancer will change the fact that we have it. We can no more go back to a precancerous state than we can change a pickle back to a cucumber. AA has a great saying "Poor me, poor me, pour me another one." All the energy we spend agonizing over getting cancer takes away from resources we need to make sure we don't keep cancer. Remember that the only constant in the universe is change and we need to point our energies toward the things we can change.

Once cancer is accepted, our attitude toward it changes. It becomes less threatening and more manageable. We surrender to the fact that we have cancer and this opens the door to us winning the battle. We have stopped using resources pushing against the immovable wall and start to look for doorways. Acceptance and surrender clears our heads and spirits to fight the good fight and move into health.

A wonderful quote on acceptance can in the paragraph that begins "And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today" found on page 11 in one of the stories in the AA Big Book. The whole story is very inspirational.

So in any troubling situation ask yourself "Can I change this?" If you can, great move on to a solution. If you can't, work on acceptance. You will find that by accepting something, your perception will change and since perception is your personal reality, the thing that is troubling you will change as well. It only works if you do it.

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