An Ethical Musings’ reader wrote forwarded this first-person description of a friend’s experience with pain caused by cancer, emphasizing social instead of physical pain:
The after-effects of surgery and radiation for my prostate cancer don't cause pain, but they do interfere with my life in various ways. For example, I dribble urine when I cough. To manage this, I wear a pad and empty my bladder often, but I am forced to wear an adult diaper whenever I catch cold or have hay-fever. On occasion, even these measures don't work well. Embarrassment ensues.
Yes, this situation does increase my identification with people who suffer incontinence or have had to undergo more radical changes to their internal plumbing. I should have had such empathy for them all along, of course.
The experience of cancer has led me (driven me?) to a practice of active gratefulness as exemplified by David Steindl-Rast OSB. Again, perhaps I should have been practicing active gratefulness all along, but now is better than never.
In the depths of my bout with cancer, my mind altered first by the cancer and then by the drugs, there was little gratitude and when in my dulled state I did have strong feelings, they were most often grief. However, as my health improved and I took fewer drugs (i.e., had a clearer mind), I became grateful for my life, those who love me, and much else. That gratitude remains a part of my life.
For what might you become more grateful without requiring pain caused by cancer as a catalyst?