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Seeing Cancer (and Life) in a New Light

Editor's Note: The following is the introduction to a new book I have written in which I seek to offer encouragement and support to anyone diagnosed with cancer. The book shares some of my thoughts and experiences since being diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2013. The book is entitled The Upside of Cancer: How a Terrifying Illness Led Me to Courage, Wisdom and Inner Peace. It's a slim volume which I plan to publish soon.

There’s no history of cancer in my family, and it was a shock, to put it mildly, when I was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2013.

But here’s the surprising thing: despite the fear and discomfort I experienced following my diagnosis I am happier now than I have ever been.

It is as if the cancer, designated stage 2, has forced me to go deeper into the courage and wisdom of my true nature. I’ve discovered, in the process, that our true nature is not fear—it is love, which as the disciple John proclaimed, “casts out all fear.”

Don’t get me wrong. Fear still arises. But as I move forward in my 80s I find that almost anything makes me happy now: watching a bird, saying hello to a server in my favorite coffee shop, listening to the sounds of a nearby creek, washing the dishes.

My new happiness has a boundless quality to it. I am dreaming new dreams and setting new goals even though at the same time I am becoming more practical in various ways. This is extraordinary, because I have always been a poet and a dreamer at heart; my wife, JoAnn, is the practical one.

For example, I used to be quite casual about money. I only had time for what I thought of as “spiritual” concerns and aspirations. But now I see money with new eyes: I respect it and appreciate it. I used to look down my nose at tools too—just like my Dad—but now I actually enjoy doing simple maintenance around our house. JoAnn is so impressed she says I’m a new person. “Who’s there?” she calls out sometimes when I come home from the coffee shop and she hears the kitchen door open. “New person,” I reply. How I love her hearty response: “That’s right.”

I share this brief report about my experience with cancer thus far because you too may have been diagnosed with this terrifying illness; and if this is so, I would like to share these heartfelt words with you:

First of all, please take this new adventure one step at a time. My wife has been drilling this simple wisdom into me for years, and it really is the only way to handle the challenges life brings to us.

I can only speak from my own experience. But what I have discovered, and continue to discover is that there are two ways we can look at this phenomenon we call cancer.

We can see it as the grievous and terrifying event which it obviously is. But we can also see cancer as a catalyst that can help us face our fear—especially the fear of death—and awaken to the presence of that which is not dismayed by any calamity: the inner peace at the core of our being.

I salute you in your time of trial. May this little book remind you of the courage, wisdom and peace of your true nature just waiting to emerge in greater fullness.

My heart is with you. Blessings to you.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary February 5, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Hi Chris,

Wow Chris, I was just moments ago cleaning up my in box, I saw a couple of emails from you. I pondered how you were doing as it’s been a while since you last wrote.

I look forward to reading your next book !!
Thank you for your timely note, so very nice to hear from you
Sending you love and light and encouragement

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:18 am

Gary, great to hear from you. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and encouragement. I’m doing well thanks. It’s a strange thing, but I’m happier than I have ever been. Blessings.

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Sandra Pawula February 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Hey New You! So inspiring. Keep showing us how to unfold and embrace our true nature through all the ups and downs of life. Thank you!
Sandra Pawula recently posted..Great Links for a Good Life * Feb 2015

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

Sandra, hi to you too. You’re one of my blogging angels that in one way or another has been a friend and fellow wayfarer for quite a while now. I do appreciate your comment and send you a ton of blessings.

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Dr Kenneth Lim February 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm

Loved your article on Cancer !! 4 years ago I had to face a health situation with my Heart. Tests showed major blockages in heart & surgery was indicated. I elected not to & with natural Energy work was cured. Fear did cross my mind, but faith & trust in the Innate ability to HEAL, as I had seen hundreds of times, I made my decision. This is not for everyone. Have taken responsibility for right eating, exercise, etc & doing well. I am mailing you a copy of new views on Cancer treatment; perhaps you will find it enlightening. Look forward to the new book…… Ken

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

Ken, it’s a real delight to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, your words and spirit are very, very inspiring. We are in this journey together, aren’t we. I am glad you are doing well. Keep it up and I look forward to reading the new views on cancer treatment that you mention.
Stay well old friend.

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Evan Griffith February 5, 2015 at 6:39 pm

Though I haven’t personally been through cancer, Chris, I was there with my Mom a few years back. This book of yours will be a welcome companion to any in that situation.

Your description of the extraordinary ordinariness that you experience these days is sublime . . . I feel like I go there with you. And feel the warmth and satisfaction you feel.

Thanks again for being a living exemplar on the path of transcendence!

Evan
Evan Griffith recently posted..Living in the I Don’t Know: One Thing Better with Deborah Weed

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:31 am

You’re an angel in human flesh Evan. It’s a privilege to know you. Thank you for your kind thoughts and I send you much love.

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michel February 5, 2015 at 6:59 pm

Quite a challenge to take on, this cancer disease is, but out of evolving situation come the wonder of life and love blossoms from our new look on every day events. We are indeed in communion with our creator as we let our mind settle in the calm of his nature. It will be great to read your note on this dramatic experience and the outstanding reaction that transformed you into a handy man, ah,ah.
Keep on being beautiful.
One with You,
Michel

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

Michel, you’re wonderful. Thank you for the wisdom of your words. How important it is to take a “new look” at our everyday situations and challenges, just as you say, and stay focused in the calm of our true nature. Much love to you and thank you for your support of my blog.

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Normie February 5, 2015 at 9:55 pm

Dear Mr.Foster,
Good morning Sir. I’m so touched by your new message, everyday I’m looking for your name eagerly to read something new that will teach and guide me. But now sadness I felt for you, I miss my late father in you. Sir I’m proud of you showing us your courage facing all you have now.

Prayers for you Sir and for your family.

Regards ,
Normie

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:52 am

Your words are a real treasure Normie. Thank you so much for your comments and for sharing from your heart in this way. I called my wife, JoAnn in to read your words with me and she joins me in sending you our love. Thank you for your prayers and I offer prayers back to you and your family. Stay strong.

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Tee February 6, 2015 at 2:10 am

I can really feel the joy emanating from the screen.
Thankyou so much for this beautiful blog. X

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

Tee, thank you and bless you. I’m with you in your journey.

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Ken harris February 6, 2015 at 3:54 am

Dear Chris,

Your gift with the written word is a joy to read. I have always enjoyed your poetry as well and use some off your poems in my workshops. Although we have never met in person I feel like we are “old friends” . I guess having heard the tone of life expressed by our mentors, Martin Cecil and for me, Bill Bahan,as well back along the way in our Emissary program we were already friends from another time and place in this vast and magical universe!

I do hope before we graduate this earth plane we do get an opportunity to meet in the flesh down the road. I still would like to suggest that your book “bearers of the sun ” might be converted into a screen play and eventually a movie. The consciousness is ripe for such a book that it could be made into a motion picture and appeal to a wide audience of cultural collectives . In any case I look forward to this new creation you are working around your health challenges and new lease on life.
Blessings to you,
Much Love and appreciation to you and for you,
I Am -Ken

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Christopher Foster February 6, 2015 at 11:09 am

Your words are handsome and beautiful, Ken. Thank you. Truly we do live in a magical universe and truly we are “old friends,” just as you say, even though we have not yet met in the flesh.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts re ‘Bearers of the Sun,’ we’ll just have to see what life has in store. Surely there are deep changes going on in this world and though it may seem as if the world is filled with conflict and violence, quietly, often out of sight, the truth is coming to the surface. The truth of our own eternal nature which nothing can diminish or destroy. Blessings to you Ken.

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Gail Brenner February 6, 2015 at 11:12 am

Hi Chris,

You are so generous with your own experience, being in service to those who can benefit from your ever-deepening insights. You stand as a testament to the peace that is always possible. My heart celebrates with yours in love… Gail
Gail Brenner recently posted..The End of Self-Help—Book Coming Soon!

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Christopher Foster February 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm

You are a true friend Gail. I still recall fondly the time when I first came into contact with you shortly after I had begun blogging. Thank you for your words. They are beautiful and I feel deeply the blessing you have extended to me. Take care.

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Nancy Leefe February 14, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Thank you, Chris, for your words of encouragement to the the Big word C. I will keep in mind…

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Christopher Foster March 26, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Nancy, I don’t know how I missed your kind comment, but I did. Thank you and bless you.

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Carlos Sal Zurita March 13, 2015 at 7:22 pm

My dear friend: your words are in my heart and in my mind. They have been an inspiration from the day I met you more than 30 years ago. Your light is shining in my road and remind me the real purpose of Life. With love always!!!

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Christopher Foster March 26, 2015 at 5:26 pm

Carlos, thank you for your kind words and thoughts, it was a great pleasure to hear from you. I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your comment sooner. Yes, we’ve known each other a long time. I think real friendship gets better and better with age, like fine wine maybe? A lot of love and blessing to you and take care.

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