As one of my favorite celebrity icons (and breast cancer survivor/thriver) Robin Roberts once said, “when fear knocks, let faith answer”. I find it especially fitting for this day of October 1st, the first day of National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The picture above is of my mother and I seven years ago, nearly to the week, at Smilow Cancer Hospital of Yale New Haven. This was days after my brave mom underwent a bilateral mastectomy. I remember sitting there for that picture, thinking about how happy I was to just be there, with her. Cancer is one of those things that opens you up to the preciousness of life. I am sure that all of you reading either know of someone, or you are someone in which breast cancer has touched your life.
What stands out to me the most when I reflect on my mom’s journey, some seven years ago, is a lesson that I learned on the will of the human spirit. The human spirit is far more resilient than any of us ever imagine. Perhaps the scariest, and most challenging moments of our lives turn out to be the ones that bring the most hope and life to us and those around us. When fear knocks on our door, let faith answer. We all ultimately have far less control than we think we do. When we surrender to faith, in whatever form that means to us, we are able to lean in and embrace the circumstance. This is what I watched my mother do. And it is what I urge you to do, as well.
And so, as this month means something different to each of us, and while it is impossible to articulate the immensity of this topic in a few sentences, I will say this: take the time to learn other people’s stories. It is through this that we learn and become inspired. It is through this that we realize the strength of the human spirit.
I feel blessed to have learned the story of Rebecca Timlin-Scalera. Reb fought her own battle with breast cancer and founded the “The Cancer Couch Foundation” (which has raised nearly 4 million dollars for metastatic breast cancer research). Reb once said, “I was not only slowed down enough by this disease to start noticing how amazing small, ordinary moments could be, but also to see the love and humor in almost every situation. It was always and had always been right there, all around me, all the time. You just have to tilt your head so to speak, the way you look at things, the tiniest bit and you can see it so clearly. Love, light, humor and gratitude everywhere. Well, cancer gave me my head tilt.”
Cancer has a way of giving us a head tilt. One that can show us what matters most. Who matters most. And the fact that faith will always win over fear.
I believe that letting faith answer the door whenever fear knocks is a powerful tool to live by in many areas of life- not just cancer. It is a belief in something bigger, something we cannot understand now, but that will make sense later. Sometimes, we have the most control when we let it go. And so, on this first day of Breast Cancer Awareness month, take a moment to honor, celebrate, and cheer on those who are battling, and those whose legacies continue to live on.