Sunday, August 1, 2010


People are like cellphones: if you expose us to the smallest amount of stress, we can’t function. If we don’t stay home and recharge, we don’t last throughout the day. If you bend us against our will, we snap. If you drop us into orange soda…well, you get the point. While there are resilient ones among us, many more seem to forget the importance of staying strong when the when things get tough. I too had forgotten this important quality, until I was enlightened by my Steadfast Survivor.

“I don’t want to worry you” were the first words that came out of my Steadfast Survivor’s mouth.

Setting my yellow fold-up sunglasses on my head, I thought, Well, I know what this means. I’m about to be worried.

“I don’t want to worry you,” SS repeated, “but there is a possibility I may have cancer.”

My sinking despair anchored itself in both my belly and my heart. Cancer?

Submerged in the depths, I vaguely heard SS use medical terminology to describe ways to determine if the cancer was really there and talk about arrangements that could be made to make its removal as painless as possible.

“If it is cancer, I’m planning to go to the best hospital in our area. I’ll try to get the best doctors to do my pre-op procedures and my operation, and I’ll work with family so I’ll have a support system afterward.” SS explained.

Feeling absolute numbness, I said, “Ok.” And in my numbness, that would eventually transform into restrained fear, I realized there was a possibility SS could be gone from my life.

This sudden realization motivated me to ask, “How are you so level-headed about this? You speak about having cancer like it is business, like all you have to do is ask the doctor to take it out, and everyone’s happy after that!” Angry because SS showed no fear, I started to yell. “Why aren’t you emotional?”

When I looked at SS’s face, for an instant, those eyes betrayed worry. But they quickly recovered their stoic appearance, and SS said, “Being emotional isn’t going to make it go away. I have to be strong to face this thing.”


Time passed from that conversation. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Uncertainty turned into dreadful assuredness, and doctor’s appointments, medications, surgeries, and at-home nurses became commonplace.

SS, a few days after the surgery, looked like a soldier who had just walked off the battlefield. Exhausted and in pain, SS could barely walk, and could have only short conversations. Yet, even in these dark days, SS maintained strength.

How on earth is this person enduring this situation? I thought. Where is this strength coming from?

After a few weeks of recovery, I asked SS these very questions. SS replied, “I simply had to be strong to survive. I found my strength from God and from my family, and those two sources truly helped me endure. I knew that I had to be strong to beat it.”

It was then, months after our first conversation, that I realized the true importance of being durable in the face of danger. Medicine, advice, and therapy could only do so much; in the battle with cancer, my Steadfast Survivor’s will was the most powerful weapon that could be used.

Lesson Learned: Be resilient, and stay strong during life’s adversities. When faced with sadness or stress, try to find one source that can sustain you, and derive your strength from it. Whether it be God, your family, or even your dreams, use this source to make you durable in times of difficulty. Having internal strength can help you endure far more than you could ever imagine. J

"Fall seven times, stand up eight." -Japanese Proverb

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