You’re stronger than you think you are. It’s easy to face life with fear of failure or lack of courage, but the reality is we all have a reserve of strength when we need it.

When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at 24, I had no medical insurance and my only frame of reference was my mother who died of lung cancer at 40. To say that I was scared was an understatement. I had to face the facts that I was going to have chemotherapy and be bald and sick. There would be radiation treatments to follow, and I had to have a bone marrow biopsy to kick it all off. With no clue how things would unfold, I decided to focus on times in my life when I had found strength, like when my mom died. I put things in to perspective by reminding myself that my mother was given only months to live, not a 90% chance to survive as I had been. Finally, I couldn’t deny the miracle of getting my treatment paid for in full by a generous donor who supported The City of Hope, where I was treated. If I didn’t believe in God before that, I sure did then. Though they weren’t all that big, there were many moments of mercy that comforted me along the way.

Of course, having cancer sucked and was one of the hardest experiences of my life, but it taught me that I’m brave and I can handle real life. I learned that I am tough and that pain and suffering are always punctuated by moments of humor and respite. It gave me a new frame of reference. I’ve said to myself so often, “If I can handle cancer, I can handle this.” The best part is that whatever “this” is at the time, it is always silly and trivial by comparison. I became strong, and strength is something that builds cumulatively.

Do you need courage today? Go forth today knowing that you are stronger than you think and let strength guide your actions.