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What Cancer Taught Me About Resilience

You wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone and yet it brings the most surprising gifts


By Deborah Baron, Executive, Leadership and Transformative Life Coach


Originally published in Thrive Global on April 19, 2020


There was a time in my life when the word “cancer”, just saying it or even thinking it brought a feeling of dread and fear to the pit of my stomach.   It was on the “biggest fears” list.  And then one day, I went to the doctor and they said, “we found a mass”.  No one even used the “cancer” word.  I had to see the look on their faces to know that “finding a mass” was code word for “there is something bad inside of you” and “time to give up any feeling you ever had of feeling in control”.  But here is the thing.  The reality of what happened next was nothing like I imagined.  In fact, it was the exact opposite.  Instead of finding fear and sadness, I found love.   I learned that I could be ok, no matter what, and I gave up fear, even the fear of death. 

Finding Love This is actually the hardest part to describe.  And as much as I’d love to have words to describe this to you, I also have a knowing that there is great significance or maybe importance to the fact that I have no words.  Because love lives before words.  It lives in that space that creates words.  It lives in a spiritual energy that is before our thoughts.  It is uncontaminated by the type of thinking that creates fear.  It is pure, it is beautiful, and it is always there for each and every one of us when we find the space to slip below our thought train, below the metaphorical surface of the water into a warm cocoon that holds us.  It is beautiful and it is always there before everything else. 

Being OK No Matter What It’s a crazy thing the role that thought plays in creating our experience.  Think about right now.  Are you ok?  When you bring yourself fully into the moment, fully into the now.  Are you ok?  Is there anything really wrong right now?  Probably not.  Any discomfort you are feeling is likely coming from either your thinking about the future or thinking about the past.  This was true for me even through the pain of surgery, and the nausea of chemotherapy.  I may have worried about them before they happened but the now was never a problem.  I was always ok in the moment.  And even if I didn’t feel 100% ok, during an uncomfortable treatment or a nauseas night, everything was temporary.  And for whatever reason, I had a deep sense of that.  This is one moment and a new moment will come along.  I just had to wait it out.  I didn’t need to fight it.

No More Fear It’s a funny thing about being ok in any moment.  Fear lives in the future.  So if I am ok now there is no fear.  Even fear of death.  Anita Moorjani speaks beautifully about love being the antidote to fear.  That you can’t push fear away, you can only fill it with love.  And in that space, that space of love, fear  doesn’t have a chance.  I knew that I would be ok no matter what and that whatever happened would be just that; whatever happened.  No judgement.     So, yes, I had cancer, and now I don’t.  One of my biggest fears became one of my biggest gifts.  And, I learned:  we are not in control, we never were, we are ok today, fear is created from the inside out and love is the antidote to all.  Be well my friends….

— Published on April 19, 2020



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Deborah A. Baron
Leadership and Transformative Life Coach
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