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Chris Hubbard - “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity“

“You have got breast cancer”. The diagnosis I received on 18 September, 1995 hit me like a body blow. I was only 42, no-one in the family suffered from breast cancer and I led a healthy life. Two partial mastectomies, four courses of chemotherapy and six weeks of daily radiation gave me ample opportunity to mull the whole thing over.

First, I concentrated on my body. What changes could I make? I had always made an effort to exercise regularly and eat well, but there was still room for improvement.

The next question was: could psychological and emotional factors also be to be blame? After some reflection and reading around the subject, it became clear to me that the stress and hectic pace of life I had willingly accepted could have contributed to the weakening of my immune system. 

But how do you go about changing ingrained psychological and emotional pat-terns of behaviour? This was to prove much more difficult than simply changing my diet and getting more exercise. My period of selfreflection made me realise that I often regarded people, situations and experiences in a negative light.

Then I remembered the Albert Einstein quote: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.

That led me to ask my-self: could I change the way I felt, look at my cancer diagnosis differently and see it as an opportunity? Yes, I could! I decided to treat my cancer and subsequent treatments as a chance to slow down and learn to appreciate the many good things in my life.

At the same time, I resolved to find something positive in all my future experiences. Over the long term, this has taught me to discover a hidden blessing in every situation. That way I keep the pessimistic, anxious thoughts towards which I would normally tend in check. I also noticed that some of the people in my life had a negative effect on me.

I needed a tool to help me deal with such people. I think of this as an imaginary circle around me. I decide who belongs inside the circle, i.e. people who think positively and are a support to me, people who buoy me up and who care. People who drag me down remain outside. In practical terms, that means I try to have as little contact with them as possible and distance my-self from them emotionally.

I have had many wonderful experiences as a result of getting breast cancer.

I have done things I would never have imagined doing before: jumping out of a plane at the age of 50, gaining a master’s in spiritual psychology at 51, taking part in a dragon boat race, entering a triathlon and running my first marathon at 53.

But I no longer spend my life rushing around.

Today I realise that it doesn’t matter how fast I am to the finishing line. What matters is the joy of learning new things along the way, and supporting others in the process. 

I have regarded all my career decisions as an opportunity for personal development, as part of a learning process.

But it was even more important to me to be in a better position to help others. The same goes for my time as a

Care Consultant for Anita International: I simply enjoyed working with wonderful people and doing what I could for them.

Henry David Thoreau once said: “It’s not enough to be busy. So are the ants.

The question is: what are we busy about?” So I try to make decisions that are consistent with what I want to achieve in life.

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