As I lay in bed at 2:11 am, I am awake with a body pumped full of steroids to stop the dreadful pain experienced after chemotherapy. This is round two in the journey towards remission of stage IV cancer. Strangely, today was my most self-recognizable day in months. Today I had the same energy that I had pre sickness. Since it is Thursday, my Shabbos prep had me preparing all the festive foods then setting my table with my favorite dishes, stemware, cloths, napkins, and flowers. I spent an hour on the stationary bicycle while returning my calls required post treatment. I ate a healthy salad and drank my Ginger Kombucha to resupply nutrient energies. Then, I finished an entire chapter of this book and felt exhilarated with my accomplishments. The evening was filled with my usual playlist of Torah (Bible) lectures and text messages to my prayer warrior group of angels. This was not a normal post-chemo day for me.
How could today be such a beautiful day? How can sickness turn into beauty?
I have surrendered to G-d since receiving this disease, as I fight this cancer. It has been a strange blessing because through this situation, I have found my true purpose. I no longer fear the opinions of others or the acceptance of my behavior. I only fear not fulfilling the true purpose of my life. The peace of mind that my faith has given me has eradicated the upheaval that I initially felt when my doctor said, “you have cancer.”
The shock has amplified my faith in G-d and his plan for me. Cancer brought me to an elegant state of introspection. I am studying where my life trauma began and grew over the years. The repeated mistakes, the triggers, the manipulators, the heart breakers, all having too many important roles in my life. They occupied and developed unhealthy spaces in my body. I think my life has been a divinely orchestrated and curated mistake ridden plan. Rarely did I turn to G-d for help or comfort in prayer, always babbling the words and never understanding their worth or meaning. Over the last ten years, I have had a complete reversal of heart and soul, which probably prepared me for this unexpected chapter. I am now fighting for my life, with a clearer understanding of the rollercoaster ride I finally jumped off. I am filled with gratitude that G-d brought me to the life I have now before my fight with cancer began.
How can you find beauty in disease? By finding beauty in your true purpose. By finding beauty that surrounds you during your fight. By finding beauty in gratitude to G-d for the things He gave to help you fight. By finding beauty in the company of friends, family, clergy, and doctors that surround you with love, support and proper care for your body, mind, and soul. The real beauty is to be found in surrender to G-d, for it is only He that heals us.
My favorite book, “The Ethics of the Fathers,” (2:1) explains it best. Rabbi said, “Which is the proper path for man to choose for himself? Whatever brings beauty to the person that does it and is beautiful to mankind.” Rabbi Yehudah Hanassi emphasizes the balance of doing what is beautiful and beneficial for his/her own spiritual growth. At the same time focusing that spiritual growth on others.
Beauty in Hebrew is tiferet which means a harmony of opposites. Beauty is found in the center of two opposing thought processes, good and bad. Beauty can be defined as vain or as spiritual. True beauty is found in the existence of both. That I can have a serious disease and still feel beautiful is a composite of opposites, but it is the beautiful truth.