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On Feeling Overwhelmed……Have you eaten your elephant today?

In the past year, in working with numerous cancer patients and with my own personal experience, feeling overwhelmed is very common.  The task of putting together a surgical and treatment puzzle, at a time when your head is swimming with your own mortality is unbelievably difficult.  Option after option is presented to you with statistical information, in an effort to have you make informed choices.

I remember at some of my first appointments, coming home with just a complete and utter feeling of being overwhelmed and scared.  Thoughts and fears gripped me at times and kept me from much-needed sleep for days on end.  I felt like someone handed me a Rubrics cube and told me that my life depended on me getting the right combination of “options” in order to survive.  Quite a daunting task.  Now toss in the fact I had no insurance and some professionals were turning their backs on me…….even worse.

By the time I landed at Space Coast Cancer Center, and my oncologist’s (Dr. Levine) office, I was in very rough shape. I remember being so afraid that he too was going to tell me that I needed to figure out how the chemo was going to be paid for before he would agree to treat me.  So, I went to that appointment alone in November 2009 with great trepidation.

I will never forget when Dr. Levine entered the exam room and I saw him for the first time.  Redheaded and smiling at me, a small but confident grin.  He immediately made me realize that, he had this!  He was confident in his treatment abilities.  If I could only convince him to treat me………..  Before I knew it, I was crying and begging him for my life.  I was telling him, if he would only treat me, I would be well and return to work and be able to pay him back.

It was then that he said the words that I will never forget.  He said “Dawn, you are a cancer patient and I am a cancer doctor, that puts you in a community of people I am committed to serve and treat.  Why don’t you focus on getting well and let me worry about the treatment?  How does that sound to you?”  I had such a wave of relief come over me and I said to him, “You realize, I don’t have insurance?”  He smiled that little smile again and he said “There will be plenty of time to work out the finances.  Let’s focus on the treatment for now”.  And that was the agreement that Dr. Levine and I made that day. 

 I walked out of his office feeling like 10,000 lbs had been lifted off of me.    I cry now, even as I write these words.

What a wise man.  I was borrowing trouble that I did not even have yet.  I was allowing my past experiences to color what I believed my outcome would be.  He told me exactly what I should really be focused on……getting well.  It was his job to think about and be concerned about everything else.

That is what being overwhelmed is all about.. It is when we get ahead of ourselves and think about the future and concern ourselves with things we have no control over anyway.  God wants us to live in the present….not the future.  When Moses asked God his name, he said I AM…..he did not say I will be or I hope to be.  No he answered presently…..I AM.

Exodus 3: 13&14

13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

Another great scripture about worry and feeling overwhelmed :

Matthew 6: 34 New International Version (NIV)

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

A Final thought,  once when I was feeling overwhelmed, someone gave me a great visualization.  They asked me….Dawn, how do you eat a whole elephant?  I remember thinking WOW, that’s a huge undertaking.  I started to think about butchering and preserving etc.  And the questioner could see the wheels turning in my head.  They smiled and said…..it’s simple, you eat one bite at a time!  All you really need to think about is your next bite.  So true…….what is the highest and best thing you could be doing right now?  Do THAT and the rest will fall into place.

PS…….It is with great JOY that I pay my bill each month to Space Coast Cancer Center.  I have never spent a more worthwhile dime!! Dr. Levine kept his end of the bargain and now I keep mine each month with JOY & Gratitude 🙂

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6 thoughts on “On Feeling Overwhelmed……Have you eaten your elephant today?

  1. You have and will continue to inspire me. I feel very lucky that I didn’t have to overcome the financial obstacles you did in order to receive treatment, however it’s reassuring to know that Dr. Levine and his staff are committed to the patient-not how they can afford treatment. When I get discouraged about going through this, all I have to do is remember how lucky I am to be able to go through this-it’s giving me my life back, so I will continue to “eat the elephant” one bite at a time.

    1. Donna, the inspiration has been mutual my friend. I am so humbled by the “Survivor of the Year” Thing. I have met some of the most courageous people this year in my volunteer work, so to be recognized within the survivor community, is more than I can comprehend. You will be at the Gala on the 10th won’t you? I want to share the evening with you!!

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