Searching for Meaning

Photo credit: Stefan Kunze

When adversity strikes some people quickly think, “Why did God” let this happen to me?” I am not questioning God, religion, faith, spirituality, or prayer. This post is not intended to question your philosophy or theology. I simply want to share my thoughts. I would, however, like to hear your beliefs whether or not they differ from mine.

Many years ago, when I was first diagnosed with brain cancer, I spent some time questioning how I ended up with cancer. I thought of many possibilities, but I never considered the possibility God gave cancer to me, or God could take it away from me. The diagnosis did not cause me to pray more often, and it did not cause me to pray less often.

The possibility changing religion, praying differently, or undergoing a different treatment plan might somehow cure cancer never crossed my mind. Perhaps, I was wrong. There is no way to know.

Since I had no idea if cancer would significantly shorten my life, I spent significant time thinking about the meaning of life. Was I spending my time the way I wanted to spend it? Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Is there something I should do differently?

I realize adversity can prematurely cause death, disfiguration, and other bad things. Nonetheless, I think of adversity as a gift. To me, adversity was a great opportunity to make changes I wanted to make long before my diagnosis. Cancer provided the wake-up call and the time I needed. In many ways, I think of adversity as a gift because it brought me closer to family and friends, introduced me to wonderful people I would not have met, and provided time for me to reflect on the meaning of life.

Be well. Be happy. Enjoy the journey.

Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.



  1. People have asked me if my trauma brought me closer to God; it did not. If anything, slowly, over several years I morphed from a good Catholic school girl to an agnostic. I have seen Atheist and Agnostic defined the same way so I’m not sure which applies to me. I believe there is an energy force that good souls automatically are tapped into. Good energy is not just for those who are aware it’s out there and try for an even stronger connection. Goodness is rewarded with goodness. That doesn’t mean bad things don’t happen to good people, because they do. But I don’t believe there is a God looking down who says, “I think this gal needs a little wake up call, but she’ll survive.”

    I came as far as I did after my TBI because of family support and my own hard work. Everybody who comes away, from a catastrophic event like a TBI, with a positive attitude and moving forward, should be proud of themselves. And you should feel that pride no matter where that choice to look up, not down, came from.

    1. Lexie, Thank you for sharing your beliefs. You mentioned hard work was partially responsible for your recovery. I have to say hard work was partially responsible for my recovery as well. I imagine recovery is not so easy for those who have a negative attitude, poor support system, inadequate plan, ambivalence to change, and no ambition. I am not claiming I am back to my old normal. I am quite happy with my new normal, which by the way, is different than the old normal. I have no desire to be back where I was. I view cancer and the recovery process as a gift, but I realize many people do not.

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