“If you could change you fate, would you?” It’s a fascinating question asked in one of my favorite movies, Brave. I love Merida, she’s a spitfire, strong, sassy, opinionated and of course a redhead too. Merida’s also very determined to write her own story. As the tale of Merida plays out she is given a choice to make, she can change her fate or not. She is warned by the Wise Woman but she fails to understand, “Fate be changed, look inside. Mend the bond torn by pride.” In the process by working to “fix” her life, the fate she’s been dealt, everything in Merida’s life falls apart. The fact is it’s not what she wants that ultimately sets her off course, it’s in the way she attempts to get it. This is the thing we fail to realize many times, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” C.S. Lewis nailed it right on the head didn’t he?
I have thought about what life would have been like without breast cancer many times. Believe me it’s not a fate anyone wishes for. October being breast cancer awareness month brings this home to me quite loudly actually. I was not prepared for a cancer diagnosis nor was I ready for the battle that followed. What I was is scared, frightened and petrified. I certainly wasn’t ready to face losing my breast, to live without a nipple for all these years. Chemo, having my hair fall out and being shaved off because of it or the countless surgeries and lifelong scars across my chest wasn’t supposed to be part of my story. But it was and it is. What I learned in my own journey, was something Ericadomusic says brilliantly, “My scars tell a story…They are reminders of when life tried to break me, but failed.”
Many times through the years folks have admired my strength, praising me for how strong I was. The truth is, I didn’t have a choice. It was fight or die, pull myself up by my own bootstraps or surrender. The old saying, “She needed a hero, so that’s what she became” is truer than you know. I survived breast cancer first because I was blessed and second, I had a fire inside me burning. The “C” word is simply not a word anyone ever wants to hear, ever! But in looking back, reflecting on C.S. Lewis’ quote above, I know without a doubt I wouldn’t change my fate. The life I have lived following that fateful days’ diagnosis has completely changed my life but it has also prepared me for it as well. Certainly I could spend my days over thinking, wishing for a different fate. Wondering what it would have been like to have been given a life without cancer, to still have my breast and nipple too. How would life have been better if I had lived free of the pain, the suffering, the discomfort or even the agony, grief and heartache of cancer’s hand? I could be bitter, angry even hostile but why? How does that change what I have lived through and would I even want to be that women? The thing about changing our fate, gaining what we feel is freedom, is we lose our true selves in the process. Queen Elinor asks the question best of Merida “But are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost?” Are you willing to lose everything for the chance to change your fate? Would you chase the wisp, letting it lead you to your idea of fate? And if you did, what would you change?
Looking back now, having the experience of breast cancer, being a survivor I would probably chase the wisp. I would be tempted to see my fate. But in the end just like Merida I would fight to restore my destiny. I am a better woman because of my fight, because of my personal battle with the beast. I am stronger; I am free because of my battle. I know exactly who I am and why. I am confident in my faith, fully believing, “She does not fear bad news; she confidently trusts the Lord to take care of her.” (Psalms 112:7) When all is said and done I wouldn’t change my story or my destiny. And that leads us to Life Lesson #75 ~ changing our fate. If you could change it, would you? This is a question I have asked myself many times. And the answer is no, I wouldn’t. It takes courage to stay the course, not to chase your desired destiny over the cliff or attempt to change your fate. My advice, wear your courage as a crown. Remember when you’re tempted, overcome by life’s unfair twists and turns, “Crowns aren’t made of rhinestones, they are made of discipline, determination and a hard to find alloy called courage.” You see courage is the key to living a life well spent. No, we can’t control everything that walks into our lives. We definitely can’t keep the beast from setting up camp, attempting to dampen our fire or even what happens to us in the process. But we CAN be bold and courageous just as Joshua 1:9 says, “Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go.”
Breast cancer, she’s a savage, a barbarian, a monster, a demon and a devil. She has tried to plague me but she has not taken me. I am not her target at will. Nor am I an arrow inside her quiver or at her fingertips. No she is my prey and I am her worst nightmare. And while she may have been my fate, shaping my destiny, I am not her story to tell, she is mine. For as Merida so beautifully conveys, “There are those who say fate is something beyond our command. That destiny is not our own, but I know better. Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.”