What matters is the stand a physically ill patient takes toward his predicament, the attitude he chooses toward his suffering. He may choose to be angry, or depressed, or discover a meaning in his suffering. In January 1998, my husband and I sat in silence and shock in the doctor’s office as the doctor pronounced that my husband had lymphoma and would need to see an oncologist for treatment. As we walked through the car park to our car, my husband was filled with such anger and fear, as well as feeling very sorry for himself. He ranted and raved uncontrollably. He suddenly turned to me and said “Why me?” My reply was “Why not you? What makes you think that you are more special than the next person?” This confrontational response stopped him in his tracks, made him think about his situation and the anger and feeling sorry for himself disappeared, never to return again. Too often patients with incurable diseases surrender to all the negative emotions that overwhelm them. They become despondent, depressed, fearful and lose hope. All their time is spent fixating on themselves and their wellbeing. They become so focused on their problem that the problem can become their whole world. Patients then get caught in a vicious circle whereby the harder they try not to worry, the more they worry. The greater the effort not to think of their problems, the more they think about them. Without meaning in these patient’s lives, how do they mentally ensure quality of life? How do they make peace, emotionally and spiritually, with the situation they find themselves in? There is sufficient proof that everything can be taken from man except the choice of one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. Inner freedom, which cannot be taken away, makes life meaningful and purposeful. My husband and I met with the oncologist and found out what treatment was required to push the cancer into remission. We decided to put our trust in the oncologist’s ability to treat this...
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