I got news that trumped Fear with Optimism
I met the man who owns my left breast. I chatted with a stranger who said he’s a Medical Researcher studying what breast cancers spread to bones. I said I’d donated the tissue formerly known as my breast to his research project. He said my breast’s in a petrie dish in his lab freezer, and I asked if that’s next to the vegetables.
He said he owes me because without tissue donations he has no research. Now that I’ve had time to process the encounter, I owe him more.
Fear of meaninglessness
I’d searched for the disease’s bigger meaning, overlooking I’d donated my breasts to science. Quadruple mastectomies, chemo and radiation hid the memory. So long as I got my breasts off my chest before they killed me, I didn’t care if they froze or incinerated. They weren’t coming home in a jar.
Now he’s given me hope my tissue can help, especially since the cancer was rare Triple Negative. Unintended, but he reduced my Fear the cancer meant nothing.
Meaninglessness of Fear
Like so many with cancer diagnoses, I experienced numb shock, waves of terror, and masses of esoteric information. Daytime, distracted and busy, I almost forgot Fear. But at night, or when tired, oh, Fear roared.
Where’d Fear’s dizzying power come from? How’d I let Fear dominate me into I’m-gonna-die, world-gone-nuts, paralysis?
Turns out, Fear, you don’t act alone, you get help. Lots of help.
Fear rides with powerful friends
Fear, you shape-shift as Triple Negative Breast Cancer or a herd of stampeding horses, or whatever terrifies. But you boost into big time with government, media, and corporate injections of Fear into anxious mortals. Election cycle, news cycle, and economic cycle – there you and they are, with thin explanations, replaying your message du jour.
Fear, you’re sometimes effective when people feel they lack power in uncertain times. Negative campaigns rely on you – Boo – we’re scared into voting your way, buying a product or service, believing a stereotype.
What’s the opposite of Fear?
The Medical Researcher invested me with Optimism in the best sense of the word: curious, and informed. Take that, Fear, and negative attack ads. I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer; I gotta have game. Fear, you’re a cycle in need of breaking. And I’m breaking up with you.
Now, I want a name for the state of non-fear. Dictionaries offer antonyms: courage, fearlessness, bravery. But those can co-exist within a stew-pot of fear, stress and anxiety. So they don’t fit as names for non-fear.
How about curiosity or optimism? Research suggests Optimism is both genetic and can be learned to shrink Fear, so I owe my grandparents too.
I’d welcome suggestions: what’s the name of this tentative state of being that’s the opposite of Fear?
Fabulous blog, Deborah. You write exceptionally well. Thank you for sharing your story. I would suggest that hope and acceptance most diminish fear – the knowledge that, no matter what, with love and support on our side, we can handle whatever journey awaits. However, I would argue that fear can also mobilize, rather than paralyze, if it is measured and examined. Take care, Friend.
Thank you Jan. Your comments are so thoughtful and full of wisdom. We are indeed blessed to have love and support and for that, and much else, I’m very grateful. I feel the ticking clock as I enter the senior years, and that does indeed mobilize me. I must get my novel published, as you inspire me to do. Getting back to work on it now….
Wow, that is so cool that you could give back and attack triple negative BC at the same time. How is “confidence” for non-fear?
Wonderful suggestion Jacquelyn, thank you. With confidence in ourselves, Fear looks so much smaller.
Amazing. Thanks, as always, for your potent posts.
Thanks Elisha; potent, what a great antonym for non-fear.
Love it Deb!! Very good! In my case, sometimes Faith and Trust was a good source.
Thank you for those words, Eve. Faith and Trust mean letting go of control and judgment. Not always so easy.
That is one attention getting opening line, Deborah! You write so well. Thanks. Judy
Thank you Judy; glad it got your attention.
Great post, Deborah.
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Thank you. May non-fear thrive for us all please.