When I was dying—actually dying, not dying of hunger or embarrassment or other silly things people say—I went through a pretty angry phase. If someone had tried to tell me that this was happening for a reason, that it would all work out in the end, that maybe cancer was a way to steer me down a different road, I might have punched his or her well-meaning face.
Now that it's been almost exactly three years since my diagnosis, I can’t help but reflect on a few very strange “coincidences” that have led me to the road I am now on.
Step 1: Cancer. Life blows up, mommy gets separated from baby, hearts break, hair falls out, PhD is “temporarily” interrupted.
Step 2: While recovering from cancer, I discover yoga therapy, which I thought was just talk therapy while standing in yoga poses (it isn’t). Yoga therapy saves my freaked out body and mind from the ravages of treatment and diagnosis trauma.
Step 3: I train too hard and get a stress fracture in my pelvis. I don’t know it’s a stress fracture right away, so I seek out a physiotherapist to help with apparent hip flexor injury.
Step 4: I randomly choose a physiotherapist practice near my house. They assign me to the guy who works with runners, Michael. He is great, but eventually leaves to go work with the local police.
Step 5: I start my yoga teacher training, “just because.” I wasn’t really intending on making a career out of it. I was still planning to return to the PhD. I send a random email to Michael asking if the police program needs a yoga teacher. He forwards my email but I never hear back. I forget about it.
Step 6: I eventually recover from the pelvic fracture and start running in the summer with my old racing team. We get a new teammate, Joey, who “happens” to also work with the police with my former physiotherapist, Michael. What a “coincidence”!
Step 7: Out of the blue, I get an email from the police wellness program, asking me to come in and talk about yoga. The director and I hit it off immediately. She asks me to take on designing and teaching a yoga program for her police program.
Step 8: My family discovers a new church that we love, and our kids love it too. I tell my good friend there about the police yoga program. She tells me that the administrator for the police wellness program is the mother of the female pastor at our new church. WHAT?!
Can this many “coincidences” really line up in such a perfect way? I think you have to be pretty cynical to believe that. I think that sometimes you have no idea why things happened the way they happened until years later. Then, you might look back on the worst time of your life and realize that Someone has been looking out for you this whole time.
Now don’t get me wrong, I will still never say that cancer was a gift. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and I will forever live with the effects of treatment on my body. And maybe this journey could have happened a different way, without all the baldness and chemo and puking. Maybe.
But maybe not. Maybe sometimes we just have to take a really long, painful, circuitous route to get to what we are really meant to do.
Or maybe I am so stubborn that I can only learn things the hard way.