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Helpless to Helpful

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Have you ever marveled at the attitude of invincibility common to toddlers? I love to watch my young grandson, for whom every physical obstacle seems to be nothing more than a mountain that he delights in summiting. In his eyes and his young mind, the world and the possibilities it offers him are without limit.

From invincible to helpless. Illness can transport us from one reality to the next in the span of just three words: “You have cancer.” Perhaps there are no words labeling your new reality; only physical deterioration and multiplying physical limits, unexplained by medical science, disbelieved and dismissed by medical doctors.

Nothing shatters our illusions of invincibility like illness. From major to minor, health complications almost always remind us that we are bound in small and significant ways by our health. We all respond differently to these limits imposed upon us by our bodies, and our responses to our health limits can change over time. One of the hardest parts of getting through or living with illness is accepting one’s limits and reaching out to others for help. We can be quick to associate “needing help” with “defeated” and “helpless.” We may resent our bodies for failing us, for forcing us into helplessness.

Whether we realize it or not, we are so much more than physical bodies. We are hearts and minds and souls. And while our bodies may not have the capacity to summit the physical mountains, we have the power and ability to not only summit spiritual and emotional mountains, but to help others over mountains as well.

This blog post was inspired by Marie, who shared her determination and accomplishments in advocating for and diagnosing herself when her doctors dismissed her for asking too many questions and insisting upon answers. An inspiration to anyone who has been in the same position, Marie ended an online post by referring to herself as a “fat helpless body,” possibly missing the fact that by simply sharing her lessons, she is helping and undoubtedly inspiring others to help themselves.

Susan Beausang,


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