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« They Didn't Lose | Main | Nauseatingly nauseous »

July 24, 2009


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Kairol Rosenthal

Hi Wendy,

Sometimes I think that AFTER grieving is a better time to find new golden opportunities. I all too often meet cancer patients who look so soon for a silver lining as a way to not have to feel the loss of cancer. For me personally, I have found great strength in allowing myself to feel vulnerable, rather than invincible.


Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Dear Kairol,

I agree with you. Many Healthy Survivors need to grieve before they begin to take the first baby steps of their search for new meaning.

The Dalai Lama reportedly began that search the moment he was expelled. Not me: At first, I only HOPED to find new meaning in the beginning. I didn't actively look. (I saw my early writing simply as a way to tide me over until I could get back to my old life, the old way I cared for patients.)

It was only after grieving the loss of my practice and experiencing a second failed attempt at clinical medicine (i.e. going back to work and then having to stop due to illness) that I began the active work of recreating myself as a writer and speaker.

Grieving can be a long and uneven process. For many, it does not have a clear beginning, middle and end.

For some Healthy Survivors, waiting to finish grieving may delay their emotional recovery. For them, the act of searching for new meaning and happiness may be what is needed to prevent or lift them from despair.

Healthy Survivors nourish hope of a better tomorrow even before they can imagine how that could possibly be. They find hope before they take their first steps to look for opportunities to do something better.

Paradoxically, some Healthy Survivors take steps toward a better tomorrow before they find the hope - the belief - that it will help. Taking action helps them find and nourish hope.

As with everything in life (I sound like a broken record, I know), each person forges and follows his or her unique path to Healthy Survivorship.

Kairol, please let me know if I'm making sense.

With hope, Wendy

Kairol Rosenthal

Indeed you are!


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