I woke up one particular day, years ago, never expecting the day would be any different than most others. My life seemed typical in many ways, being a mom, a college student, a wife. I had already endured many ups and downs in my life journey and some tragedies too. Perhaps I felt that nothing could possibly happen that would be more extreme or devastating than my past had been.
Except life is often not as we plan it nor does it always turn out as we hope. So on this typical day, although I was going in for minor surgery to have a benign lump removed that had been hitting a nerve and causing pain, I was not any more or less worried about what was to come next in life.
I was more annoyed than anything that I had to squeeze minor surgery into my hectic schedule. Waking up after surgery, I still felt annoyed until I fully opened my eyes. It’s never a good sign when you wake up from minor surgery, and people are standing at your bedside with terrified looks on their faces. It seems so surreal now, yet I can remember those faces and the feeling I suddenly had that something was very, very wrong.
That’s when the words were spoken that forever changed me and my life as I knew it. I was told my small, benign tumor was neither small nor benign. I was also informed that the small incision the doctor promised to make turned into a rather large incision. There are many words to describe my feelings in that moment: terrified, sad, confused, angry and more. All I wanted to do at that moment was to go back to sleep and wake up again with a different outcome.
But, as I knew from my past life experiences, often life just does not work how we want it to or always bring us what we want. It took me a year of dealing with my feelings of emotional and physical pain, sadness, frustration, anger, depression and more to finally accept my diagnosis of stage IV cancer. The shock of the whole situation took time to wear off. The realization, after the first year, of still being alive caused me to make a conscious choice to live like I was living, not dying.
I am not going to say it was easy or quick to reach a point of feeling like I could handle living with the unknown of my health status. I am not going to say there were not days that I wanted to give up. But I will say that the best thing I did was to allow all my feelings as they came and went, learn from them and learn more than ever about myself. I already knew how to persevere and how to face adversity. I had to remind myself of all I had overcome and what that said about who I was. It helped strengthen me.
Understanding my story, all of it, from childhood on was key in helping me to believe that I could handle the situation I was faced with. Despite the horrendous emotional pain I was in when I realized I would not live to be an old woman and be a part of my children’s and grandchildren’s lives for many years to come, I also knew that something within me was strong enough to get through extreme difficulties.
Facing death and living with cancer has helped me to think more intently about life. I have learned to not take people or situations for granted. I have learned what my life purpose is and spend my time living that purpose with the intention of leaving behind a legacy of sharing stories that will encourage and inspire many.
I did not always feel brave. I still don’t always feel brave. But I have maintained my sense of faith and hope. Faith that there is a plan and purpose for my life and hope that all will be just as it is meant to be. When I feel I cannot go on dealing with the challenges, I remind myself that I have overcome so much and have become a better person for it.
If you have faced a situation that you felt was hopeless, remember that it is okay to be afraid, angry, confused or experience any other feelings. The best thing to do is allow those feelings and learn how to deal with them. If you avoid your feelings and/or your situation, you will not learn from it or figure out the best way to handle it. Don’t try to handle your trials alone, seek support!
Whatever your challenge is, I encourage you to learn from it, to embrace your feelings, to allow your feelings and not deny the reality of your own situation, and at the same time I encourage you to find your own hope and faith. All we have is right here and now. We have no idea what the future holds or how or when our life may end. And believe me when I say that having a little bit of hope and faith that good things are yet to come, can have a very positive impact on your attitude and your health!
May you be aware of and pleasantly surprised by the good things and people who come your way and be aware enough to recognize and celebrate them!
About Angela Schaefers
Angela Schaefers is an inspirational speaker, freelance writer, and producer and host of Your Story Matters radio show. Angela interviews people around the globe to share their inspiring stories of overcoming challenges and living their amazing. She writes various articles on professional networking, inspiration and why our stories matter. She wrote her memoir Grief to Grace and is currently working on her next two books, Your Story Matters ~ You Matter and Cancer Doesn’t Come Wrapped In A Pretty Ribbon.
Angela speaks publicly and shares her story of overcoming tragedies since childhood, facing stage IV cancer and more to discovering her own life purpose. She is a keynote for organizations and effectively shares the message within their story. Angela positively impacts the world, one story at a time!
Angela has spoken to
- non-profit organizations, community-service oriented groups and government entities as their keynote speaker
- support groups
- private sector corporations
Angela’s previous speaking topics
- the effects and dynamics of the special-needs community, in the home and the community ~ including service providers and families
- the power of effective communication in addressing conflict
- the benefit of positive thinking and actions
- the need to discover your values and beliefs in order to plan and fulfill your career goals
- the stages of grief, including life after the death of a loved one
- the importance of overcoming shame and guilt, including learning to value our story (our experiences)
- why your story matters and how sharing it can encourage and inspire others
Angela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational management and a Master of Arts degree in counseling. She has previously counseled families, couples, children and individuals. She has provided career coaching. She has trained and worked as a chaplain. Angela has three children and is a Mimi (grandmother) to one. She enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, kayaking and the beach, loves tea time and savors a break to the spa.
Angela eloquently shares a powerful message of hope and encouragement wherever she speaks. Her expressive and positive demeanor leaves a memorable impact on others. Angela’s ability to speak to the audience, from her heart, is potent. Angela’s message has a lasting influence on others.
About Your Story Matters
View Your Story Matters archived shows on the “Radio Show” page at www.yourstorymatters.net.
Your Story Matters Radio Show schedule
- Encouraging Entrepreneurs: Tuesdays 9 p.m. EST, Wednesdays 8 a.m. GMT
- Creating Change: Wednesdays 6 p.m. EST
- Inspiring Healing: Thursdays 9 p.m. EST, Fridays 8 a.m. GMT
Speaker, Writer, Radio Show Producer and Host
Your Story Matters. You Matter.™