Ten Lessons for Enriching Life Learned by a Cancer Survivor. Lesson Seven: Be Principled.

Editor’s note: A Tenth Anniversary Remembrance is a CancerForward series of blog posts attributed to the late Mariana Dieste Mead, MD, who fought pancreatic cancer for four years. In their original format, the posts are excerpts of “Ten Lessons for Enriching Life Learned by Confronting Death” written by Dr. Mead in collaboration with Clare Broun Johnson. The CancerForward series appears July 29 through August 9, 2012.

by Mariana Dieste Mead, MD (1955 – 2002)

Most of your core beliefs stem from those of your parents and guardians. As you mature, you will become individually committed – and build on, refine, or reject the ethical, spiritual, and social foundation paved by your parents.

What are your beliefs? What defines right from wrong, good from evil to you? Do you know why you believe this way? Are your beliefs deeply rooted? If not, I encourage you to think about your spiritual and ethical convictions, and challenge them. Work hard at deciding what you believe about life and then live by it. It is better to choose a belief, live by it, and find out you are wrong than not to live by any set of values.

Taking the high road in life means remaining steadfast and strong in all you believe to be ethically right and true. It means toughing it out as if you were a goalie facing an opponent on a breakaway rampage.

You may be saying: “This is too heavy. These kinds of things are for adults.” You’re wrong. What if, all of a sudden, you couldn’t play sports, none of your clothes fit because you couldn’t keep your weight up, or some of your closest friends stayed away from you because they didn’t know what to say? Yes, it happened to me. And what got me through were two things: 1) a deeply embedded spiritual foundation, and 2) a strong sense of self. I liked myself long before I was ill.

So, never pin your self-worth on sorts, grades, friends, or clothes. If your self-esteem is based on such superficial things, you will be lost when calamity strikes. A fully developed set of personal values, convictions, and spiritual beliefs is your strongest armor against life’s challenges. It was my pillar of strength when I desperately needed one.

Editor’s Note: Lesson Eight: REJECTION SCARS. LAUGHTER HEALS. will appear in the next installment of CancerForward’s blog, to be published August 6, 2012.

Category: Cancer

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