Prostate cancer or heart disease, like aging, is more than a physical problem. To borrow from Mark Twain, It's an issue of mind over matter: If you don't mind, it doesn't matter!
I learned this from my mother, who at age 96 succumbed to heart problems exactly two months ago.
What she taught me is that even though a serious illness can be frightening, stressful, or painful, you're best off facing rather than denying it. It's advisable to take it one step further by recognizing you can handle it. You can do so on your own, with the support of those closest to you, with the guidance of healthcare professionals, and with God’s help.
Putting it differently, if you don't want to see cancer or any other serious problem conquer YOU, you must have the courage to conquer IT, physically, emotionally, and - just as important – spiritually, using every available resource. That’s what my mother taught me.
Directly and indirectly my mother helped me understand you need the strength to believe you can beat whatever ails you. In my case, like many of you, I had to believe I’d manage to cope with prostate cancer and its side effects.
How do you gain the determination, courage and faith to look in the eye of illness and declare, "I can overcome it"? For that matter, how do you develop the "backbone" to insist you can even face death without admitting defeat?
The answer, in a word, is: character. If you view life as a series of ups and downs that you and virtually everyone else are bound to encounter, you are likely to persevere. If you think that life is perfect or, on the other hand imperfect, and you’re convinced it will always remain that way, you’re more likely to falter. It's your personal character, outlook and faith that make the difference.
In short you need to act more like a reed than an oak. In a fierce storm, an otherwise sturdy oak tree can be uprooted. But a flimsy reed can bend with the wind and become upright again. We too need to remain flexible and supple, bending with the wind when the storms of life come our way.
This is how my mother lived before her recent passing.
Whether we face the ravages of aging, heart problems or an illness like prostate cancer, we need courage and an indomitable spirit to keep on going. As my musician mother demonstrated, sustaining your life’s melody no matter what your malady, can help you get through innumerable hurdles.
That's what my mother taught me, not just through her words, but through the example of her life.