By Clare Buie Chaney
“You need only arm yourself with perseverance, empowering thoughts, loved ones, and laughter and cradle yourself in the love of your God…and oh, what an adventure life will be!”
I would like to share the words I have gleaned from others regarding things that helped get me through my cancer experience.
- Perseverance: In Texas terms, I was going to “take the bull by the horns.” I had to give it my best shot, so I decided that “a mommy’s gotta do what a mommy’s gotta do.” I adopted Winston Churchill’s World War II battle cry, “Never, never, never give up.”
- Empowering thoughts: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” (Marcel Proust). Though I couldn’t change the direction of the wind, I could adjust my sails. As my oncology nurse put it, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Through my counseling training, I had learned to reinterpret negative, fearful thoughts into positive, constructive ones. My transplant offered me a 50/50 chance to live; the cup was not half empty, it was half full. I realized I could do what I felt I couldn’t —I could feel the fear and yet do it anyway.
- Loved ones: My (then) two-year old Clark’s first uttered sentence was one of encouragement: “Don’t worry, Mommy.” My husband, Cal’s favorite motivator was the Nike phrase: “Just do it!” A friend said, “Clare you can bloom where you’re planted.” My psychiatrist father’s comforting remark was, “Clare, it’s normal to feel crazy right now. You’d be crazy to feel normal!” My mother supplied her comforting philosophy on housework not getting done: “Clare, if you don’t eat off it, why clean it?”
- Laughter: “She who laughs, lasts.” In some pretty pitiful moments, I donned my Carmen Miranda fruit turban and learned to laugh at myself. Some favorite punch lines were “Calgon, take me away!” “Goof and grow!” “It could’ve been worse!” “Life is good, life is good…” “We are but tiny bugs on the windshield of life.” “Yard by yard, it’s too hard; inch by inch, it’s a cinch.” “This, too, shall pass.” Assigning a number to a cuss word and yelling “Number five!”
- Faith: It is best summed up by a child in Sunday school class who said, “God’s hands are so big, you can never fall out of them!” Feeling cradled in God’s loving arms got me through some of my loneliest, most terrifying moments.
Only in fairy tales does the hero slay the dragon and live happily ever after. In real life, the dragons—the obstacles, the challenges—keep coming. Just remember that these seemingly impossible situations are merely brilliantly disguised great opportunities; you need only arm yourself with perseverance, empowering thoughts, loved ones, and laughter as you cradle yourself in the love of your God…and, oh, what an adventure it will be!
Live your life for something bigger than YOUR life.” Origin Unknown
Clare Buie Chaney, Ph.D., says her greatest passion is to effect changes “that do the greatest good for the greater good.” She has manifested her mission through myriad projects for the arts, historic neighborhood preservation, women’s issues, and physical, mental and spiritual health. But, after fighting her own battles, Clare, perhaps, has had her greatest impact. When she beat leukemia in the 1980s (a rare and arduous achievement,) she dedicated herself to survivorship, giving emphasis to cancer patients and their families in both her practice and volunteer life. She became a sought-after speaker on “The Healing Power of Laughter,” “Slaying Dragons: A Perspective on Cancer and Life,” “Caring for the Caregiver” and other supportive topics. She has shared her personal and professional expertise with Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, the Texas Cancer Council stage agency board, the Junior League of Dallas, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Gilda’s Club, American Red Cross and more. In October 2014, Clare began the battle again, this time, with Stage 3C breast cancer. She began nine months of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation; chaired the 2014 Each Moment Matters Luncheon; continued her practice; and, with her husband, Cal, toasted both of their sons, Clark and Brent at their weddings. “I feel that God isn’t finished with me yet,” she says. “Therefore, I will still continue finding opportunities to enjoy meaningful ways to live out God’s purposes for me, which include having fun, helping others and learning more about everything in God’s creation.” She adds, “Our hearts have been overflowing with joy ever since Clayton Thomas Chaney, born to Clark and Mallory in September, 2018, and Carter Buie Chaney, born to Brent and Lindsay in December of 2018.”