Fair warning… I get pretty hippie in this one, but screw it. I believe what I believe, and now… I believe it more than ever. And amazingly, getting diagnosed with cancer has validated those beliefs. So if you don’t have the stomach for a hippie love-fest, turn back now…
Okay, I’ll just come right out and say it…
I’ve always believed love is one of the most powerful forces on Earth.
I know, I know, it sounds like a bunch of pretentious hippie hooey, but bear with me here. I’m not just talking about romantic love (although that can be part of it) and I’m not just talking about feeling good.
I’m saying love directly affects the universe around us in a very physical and positive way.
Each of us has the power to affect the world around us in a positive or negative way. We can make the world worse by embracing bigotry, hatred, violence, and selfishness. Or we can make the world better by embracing acceptance, love, peace, and kindness.
And don’t kid yourself into thinking you can avoid affecting the world at all. No matter what you do or what you don’t do, you impact those around you. You charge the air around you with your energy. Whether that energy is positive or negative is up to you.
This is something I’ve believed for years, so it predates my cancer diagnosis by a long shot. For example, here’s a blog I wrote about Antoinette Tuff back in August. If you don’t know who she is, I highly recommend you learn. She saved an entire school from a potential mass murderer, and she didn’t do it with guns or by force. She did it with love.
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not naive. I didn’t come to this world-view through ignorance. I’m fully aware that violence is natural. I understand that, in nature, violence is the norm. But here’s the thing (and it’s something I say often)… contrary to popular opinion these days, natural doesn’t automatically mean good for people. Poison Ivy is natural, but I have no plans to put it on a salad.
“Ah, but violence saves lives, hippie,” you might say. “As a matter of fact, violence is going to save your life. Surgery is violent. Chemo and radiation treatments are violent.”
True. I totally concede that point. But my coming cancer treatment is only violent because our technology hasn’t advanced past the violence yet. We used to treat mental illness by drilling holes in the patients’ heads. Today, we treat it with therapy and medication. It’s only a matter of time before cancer advances similarly. So violence is part of life, yes. But it’s not a solution. It’s just how we sometimes have to get by until we find a solution.
Our minds have massive power over our physical reality. If you live long enough, you’ll inevitably see examples of the will to live making the difference between life and death. We see it most regularly with elderly couples. When one partner passes on, it’s not uncommon to see that person’s spouse die soon after, because they’ve simply lost the will to go on. Conversely, since I’ve gotten my diagnosis, I’ve received several emails from cancer survivors who basically say, “The doctors told me I had 5 years to live. Well, it’s been 15 years and I’m still here.”
Anybody who doesn’t see that as evidence of the mind affecting the body is just choosing to be willfully ignorant.
And rest assured, these amazing people aren’t surviving because they’re overcome with despair. They’re surviving because of love and sheer will. Love of this world and the people in it, and the sheer will to stay here for as long as possible. Those people are prime examples of the mind affecting the physical world.
Not convinced? You want more evidence, you say? Okay.
Hello. I’m Brandon Hale. I’m the evidence you’re looking for.
I have cancer. Soon, I will be undergoing surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments. I might even lose my colon. I’m constantly in pain.
And yet, despite all that… I feel incredibly lucky. Despite all that, I know I’ll survive this.
Sure, I have days where I’m down, but I never – even for a second – accept even the possibility that I’m dying. And I never – even for a second – lose sight of just how fortunate I am.
So how do I stay strong in the face of such challenges?
Well, it’s not because I’m special, I can tell you that. I’m not a particularly strong person. I’m not some beacon of strength, shining down as a light for others who are facing adversity.
I’m just a guy, and not a particularly impressive guy. That’s not modesty. It’s just the truth.
So again, how do I stay strong when facing these challenges? How am I so sure I’m going to get through this?
It’s because of love.
And it’s because of you.
When I was diagnosed, I knew my closest family and friends would be there for support, but I was not prepared for massive amount of support that came from… well, pretty much everywhere.
As expected, my closest friends and family stepped up. And then… pretty much everybody else I know stepped up as well. The GoFundMe site my friend Gary set up has received more donations than I ever expected. Friends, family, and even total strangers have donated to help my wife and me during this difficult time. Sure, it’s not enough to pay for the massive medical bills we’re racking up, but it will pay for our bills here at home while we’re up north getting treatment, and the weight that has taken off our shoulders is immeasurable.
I’ve also received “you’re gonna beat this” cards, I’ve received dozens and dozens of “you’ll beat this” messages, and I’ve had visits from friends and family.
On top of that, the other writers I’ve met and befriended since becoming an author have absolutely rallied behind me. They’ve spread Gary’s GoFundMe page far and wide. They’ve spread my Day Soldiers books far and wide. They’ve written blog after blog after blog asking their followers for help. They’ve given me more words of encouragement than I ever dreamed possible. Hell, they’re even working on a short story anthology about vampires and werewolves, all just to support me.
I’m not overstating when I say I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the love and support I’ve received. I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again… since getting this diagnosis, my wife and I have shed many tears. But for every tear motivated by fear and sadness, we’ve shed an equal number that were inspired by joy and love.
And it’s that support that keeps me strong during my weak moments. It’s the love and support of my family, my friends, my readers, and my colleagues (who at this point feel like family) that inspires me to stand back up every time I feel beat down.
Now, if they had responded to my diagnosis with despair and negativity, I honestly don’t know where I would have turned to for strength.
I’m going to beat cancer because of love.
If that’s not power, I don’t know what is.