A Bad Experience is a Good Experience, Says Women with Breast Cancer

My mother used to say, “Life gets easier when you’ve grown more character.” Character grows in adversity. Perhaps, like me, you were bullied at school. I remember naively thinking that once I left high school I would be done with bullies for good, but there are bullies everywhere. Recognizing the behaviour and having skills for dealing with it is invaluable even in adult life.

In other instances, what seems like a terrible turn of events can be fortuitous in hindsight. A while ago, our family had to leave a home we loved at short notice. Our new home needed lots of repairs and renovations. We worked like dogs and finished the work just as lockdown started. Through good timing, we were comfortable and well set up to adapt to a stay-at-home lifestyle.

One of the worst situations you can find yourself in involves a frightening medical diagnosis, in my case, for breast cancer. The support and advice of other patients and advisers was invaluable to me, and I see that experience repeated daily in the online breast cancer support forums. Messages of fear and confusion change to statements of determination and endurance as their authors are bolstered by heartfelt encouragement and wise advice. There is relief as treatment comes to an end, and then the newbie becomes a mentor for others who are just starting their journey.

Mentors don’t get their wisdom through having an easy ride. Suffering through an illness or injury gives us empathy and insight into other people’s pain. We are kinder when we understand what someone else is going through. All our friends and contacts benefit from our life experiences, including our children when they inevitably face their own difficulties.

When things go wrong, I remember my mother’s words. Even a bad experience teaches me something good.

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