Fear. Google it and you will find many different definitions. It’s a noun. It’s a verb. Pick one that works for you.
I’ve been taught by the world that fear is a bad thing. Fear is something to avoid. When I’m feeling afraid, I tend to ignore it. In all honesty, I usually don’t identify the emotion until it has spilled over into another aspect of my life. In my body fear translates itself into anxiety. It manifests itself into stress. It hides behind the illusion of depression. I feel the anxiety, the stress, and the depression long before I’ve identified my fear. This is my reality.
When a spot on my back wouldn’t go away, I decided it was time to visit a dermatologist. It had been months. I no longer believed it was just a hot spot caused by the rubbing of my sports bra. It wasn’t healing. It was getting bigger. And it was starting to make me nervous. The biopsy results confirmed that it wasn’t a hot spot. It was basal cell carcinoma.
Carcinoma. Google it and you will find one definition. It’s a noun. Cancer. This definition doesn’t work for me.
I’ve been taught by the world that cancer is a bad thing. The logical part of my brain knows that basal cell carcinoma is common. The logical part of my brain knows that basal cell carcinoma doesn’t spread to other organs. I know it is not life threatening. I know it’s really not that big of deal so I made my appointment with the plastic surgeon to have it removed. No big deal.
Except the word cancer feels like a really big deal. While the logical part of me knows the only inconvenience of having this spot on my back removed is two weeks of no running or yoga while the area heals, my heart is afraid. Fear has creeped it the space left by the cancer on my body. I’ve seen cancer in action. It’s taken two people I hold close to my heart. My heart has led my brain down the dangerous road of what if. What if this is indication of future health problems? What if this means my body welcomes cancerous cells? I wish this spot had a different name.
This morning I set out for a sunrise run knowing I wouldn’t get to run tonight (but not knowing it would really be two more weeks). Mile repeats were on my schedule. When the miles got tough, the fear I’ve been feeling took over. The miles were harder than they needed to be. My fear of cancer became suffocating during the run. That’s the thing about fear. It creeps in. It doesn’t care what the source is. It doesn’t care if it belongs or not. It takes advantage of the empty spaces, and it fills them up. The same is true for cancer. It can consume every aspect of your life.
Today when I walked into the plastic surgeon’s office to have the spot removed, I didn’t choose the easy route for removal. I decided to be aggressive. I didn’t want to tip-toe around the spot on my back just to avoid cosmetic scarring. I wanted it all gone. I wanted to rid my body of the fear I was feeling from this cancerous spot. I didn’t want to wonder if it was coming back. Once my back was numb, I had a few minutes to myself to wait for it all to sink it. My lip trembled from fear and tears that wanted to spill out. I know logically I have nothing to fear, but fear isn’t logical. Fear is emotional.
While the world has taught me that fear is a bad thing, that it is something to avoid, I no longer agree. Fear is a good thing. It is a good emotion. It is the fear of cancer that allows me to choose the aggressive route of ridding my body of the basal cell carcinoma. It is fear that gives me the courage to stand tall knowing the timid route isn’t right for me. It is fear that propels me forward instead of hiding in the shadows of the unknown.
When fear takes over whether it is logical or not, I have to remember it is a chance for me to rise to the occasion. It is a chance to propel myself forward. It’s an opportunity to grow. Fear is just an indicator that something amazing is waiting for me around the corner. Fear isn’t something to fear. Fear is something to be embraced.
“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” ~Pema Chadron