One of the cancer survivors whose blog I regularly read is K. D. Paine. In July, I mentioned how I was introduced (virtually) to Katie Paine by Shel Israel, co-author of Naked Conversations. Today, her entry is The Paine Manifesto.
She has listed 18 assertions about how to survive cancer and I concur with everything she says, although I was not fortunate enough to know the two women whose lives inspired Katie to compose her manifesto.
I wonder, though, if Katie would mind if I took the work she has already done, acknowledged the original inspiration, and yet offered some advice on redacting the manifesto? My goal is to make the advice more generic and perhaps easier to summarize.
Here's my first attempt:
- Stay alive. Do whatever you need to do to keep breathing. Nothing else matters.
- Maintain your friendships. After ensuring you are alive, caring for others is your highest priority. Doing so will extend your life expectancy by over 10 years.
- Be true to your own values. Caring for others doesn't mean surrendering your deepest values. In fact, true friends know what matters most to you and, even if they don't always agree with you, appreciate those values. Don't ever try to be everything to everybody. Choose wisely!
- Be productive. Although battling cancer can sometimes drain you of physical and emotional energy, claim the good days and make a difference by doing what you do best.
- Be receptive. Sometimes you simply can't do what you would like to do. That's OK. Let others serve you. That's part of the reciprocity of life. In fact, if you want to feel closer to someone, don't do something for them, ask them to do something for you. It works!
- Apply the "cancer card". If you don't want to do something because you are sick with cancer or the side effects of treatment, then maybe you shouldn't bother with it when you are well. The "cancer card" is a useful litmus test for everybody.
- Find your model. Each of us knows someone whose life and death is a model. Find the one or two who matter most and whose life and/or death most resonate with you. Then live your life and die your death the same way.
- Be clear. It's worth the effort to articulate your priorities and values and to communicate them clearly. In sickness and in health, clarity matters.
- Be tolerant. People will say and do stupid things. Discern their intent and accept that people make mistakes. But don't tolerate inaction. If someone doesn't show up at all, they probably don't really care.
- Things happen for a reason. Whether you understand the reason doesn't matter nearly as much as accepting what has happened in your life and believing that meaning can be derived from it all. Each of us has the choice to invest meaning into everything that happens to us. Again, choose wisely!
Katie, I hope this doesn't feel like a complete rewrite. My intent is to leverage what you have already done and make it my own. Bon chance!