Navigating the Overwhelm of a Terminal Diagnosis
By Robyn Shani
Overview: When we receive a diagnosis the overwhelm can be paralyzing. There is a way to navigate the overwhelm by choosing the meaning we assign to words, choosing wise counsel, and knowing you have deep reservoirs of resources within. Know that there is an infinite power with a divine plan.

In my experience, going through the journey with someone who has been diagnosed with Cancer or any serious condition requires us to dig deep. What does it mean to dig deep? Well for me it means that what I usually do and how I usually operate isn’t going to be enough. I will need to access something deep within that up until now was dormant. It means that I am required to find the courage deep within, the courage I never knew I had. It means to find a knowing deep within and to connect to a power far greater than anything I thought I knew. It means to be able to hold two realities simultaneously, to be in action and deal with the diagnosis while simultaneously holding onto the possibility that anything is possible and complete recovery and excellent health is an option. Most importantly it required me to connect to a level of Emunah and Bitachon that I hadn’t had to access until this point.

This is how I define some of the words used above:
Dig Deep = access inner resources
Emunah = a felt sense of connection to a higher power
Bitachon = trust in a higher power

Operating from the space of Emunah and Bitachon allowed me to dig deep. It allowed me to look within for strength and simultaneously hand it over to Hashem.

When we received Elliet’s diagnosis it wasn’t good. The Drs said she had a 25% chance of surviving. I was very clear that the number the Drs gave us had no intrinsic meaning, it was just a number. Hashem is in charge and Hashem decides who lives and for how long. Some people statistically have a 100% chance of living for many more good healthy years, and then suddenly – there is an accident, heaven forbid and their 100% is dramatically no more. The only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know. At the time of diagnosis, Elliet was alive and we were going to do everything we could do to ensure she has a good long life. That brings me to my next point.

Doing everything in our power is quite an overwhelming statement. Anyone who has gone through the journey of diagnosis and treatment knows that for every treatment on offer there are side effects, conflicting opinions, and multiple places and Drs to consult. I would constantly receive so many calls and messages from people who love and care, most messages would sound something similar to: “Have you seen Dr……..? You have to make an appointment.” Or “There is a new treatment offered in………………, you have to go.” The barrage of well-meaning advice was overwhelming.

We were incredibly blessed to have access to Rabbi Firer. His wisdom and guidance were an absolute gift. He gave us clear, sound advice and enabled us to make decisions that were thought out and rational. It also enabled us to receive the love and care people were giving us, receive their messages, and not be overwhelmed and confused.

Besides all the advice we were receiving about Drs, hospitals, and treatments, we were also inundated with spiritual advice. Do this segulah, say this tefillah for this number of days, and light these candles for this number of days. Say this…. Do that …..! It was overwhelming and unhelpful. We were also very blessed to have a personal meeting with Rabbi Tauber of blessed memory, in our discussion with him we shared how we were trying everything we could for Elliet. We shared with him some of the suggestions we were receiving. He was very clear about what we should do. We work according to nature knowing that Hashem is in charge. What does that mean? It means that we go to competent Drs and pray to Hashem that he guides the Drs’ hands and gives Elliet a refuah shleimah. We take sensible considered actions and KNOW that Hashem decides the outcome. A Diagnosis is just a name that is given to a condition. Possibility is the awareness of a desired vision for the future. We are aware of the diagnosis and are connected to the possibility of complete health.

Your sister on the journey
Robyn Elana

Robyn Shani
Robyn Shani is a qualified life coach with a particular interest in coaching women. She believes that when each of us shows up as the best version of ourselves, the experience of life will be absolute bliss. She loves being the catalyst that supports people to feel connected, held, and seen. Robyn runs workshops and coaches individuals and groups. Her daughter was diagnosed with EWING sarcoma, an aggressive soft tissue cancer in 2011 and Robyn was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013. Robyn shares insights, challenges, tools, and stories that hopefully will support people who are going through challenging times.