Caregiver Lessons: From Pain to Transformation (4 of 6)

Pressure creates diamonds, fire purifies gold. Pain can serve you, if you can only stop and pay attention to the incredible learning and growth that you are experiencing. What can you do, to use the pain you experience as a caregiver as a crucible for your own personal growth.  

Pain Focuses You

It was an important moment when I realised that the struggle was not only leading me to things that helped me cope with the pain but that I was actually beginning to grow from it.

I am not saying it was easy for me or that it will be easy for you or that you should seek pain. But if you can actually stop struggling or resisting the caring experience, you may notice something subtle, yet richer and deeper going on.

Pain focuses life and pain focuses us on what is important. It is therefore an opportunity to really look at and prioritise your life and not waste every precious moment. This sense of urgency and the sweetness of life and relationships are heightened through pain.

Pain is like a diamond and you can find endless facets if you can cultivate the right attitude. It can authenticate you, it can strengthen you, it can purify you, it’s actually a fire that burns away the gross impurities and leaves the essence untouched and illuminated.

How Do I Know When I am Coping?

The next time you find yourself at a ‘peak moment’ of extreme pain or struggle, check in to see how you are really feeling. If you find yourself actually coping and coping quite well, you will be feeling much like a runner does when he is in the ‘zone’.

One achieves this state of pure presence and perfect focus when is dealing with an intense situation. And miraculously, it is the pain which prods us to actually bring out our very best.

So over the months, as I went from sheer coping to actually thriving on the stress and the pain, it gradually dawned on me that Vijay’s cancer had served as a powerful growth spurt for my own personal evolution.

As a human being, and in all my roles: wife, mother, daughter, sister, yoga teacher, therapist, educator, speaker, dancer, trainer, I found myself becoming infinitely better at each of these because of the pain of my cancer experience.

Thank you, cancer. Thank you Vijay.

I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for the two of you. All significant relationships, especially marriage, are in any case, intensely purifying and the cancer-caring distilled my spirit to a whole new level.

In your journey as a carer, I ask you to reflect on how your pain and struggle may have transformed you and your life for the better. I pray that you too will cross that turning point, where pain is a curse to be avoided to where pain as a gift to be embraced.


  • How are you coping with the extreme struggles a caregiver faces … are you drowning or have you learnt to swim?
  • What new aspect of yourself have you discovered, during this turbulent and uncertain phase?
  • How can your pain transform you, in your life-after-cancer?

More from this series

Title About the article
Lesson 1: Wear Your Oxygen Mask First The cancer diagnosis blows a big, unexpected hole in your energy supply. It’s like being on an aircraft which was flying smoothly, all under control, and suddenly the cabin pressure drops due to some unexpected turbulence.
Lesson 2: Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat Cooking for a cancer patient can be far more challenging than many books indicate. Sometimes it can take over your life and make you wonder if this is all you are now going to do.
Lesson 3: Acknowledge and Accept the Struggle Another unexpected aspect of the cancer journey is when you come up against your own, not-so-heroic side, and that of the loved one you are taking care of.
Lesson 4: From Pain to Transformation Pain can serve you, if you can only stop long enough and pay attention to the incredible learning and growth that you are experiencing.
Lesson 5: Co-dependence – Don’t Slide Into It Most times the loved one who gets cancer and for whom you are the primary care-giver is already in a deep relationship with you.
Lesson 6: Relationship as a Path to Wholeness Looking back, the very struggle of having to reclaim my power from Vijay after having spent over five years of not just being his wife and the mother of his children but also his primary care-giver and chief source of emotional support, did deliver something extra-ordinarily beautiful for me.


  1. As my anger turns to pain, then my pain turns to tears, I go to the internet in hopes to read some encouraging words.
    My husband was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer Oct 2011. He opted out on conventional treatment due to the loss of his daughter to those therapies.. I started researching clean water, organic foods and many other things to include a holistic doctor we will visit this month in hopes that he will feel better. I have learned a lot that I am sharing with others and hope to teach children about all I have learned. I have along ways to go and most of all James does to.
    I found your site that has helped me rediscover myself and understand again that the patient means no harm.
    The importance of all I have discovered so far due to this illness has made me have a better person in understanding of how important our food and water is to all of us. Most people don’t have the little bit of knowledge I have gained and I am very concerned for others.
    Yes, this is the hardest part of my whole life, but this all seems like a slow process. All in all
    I did discover there is a free gardening class sponsored by the SPURS here in San Antonio. After all; who wouldn’t want to grow there own food after learning what I have.
    Thanks again for you info, I will return.
    I thank GOD once again.

    • Dear Lisa,

      Thanks for sharing your journey so far. It is amazing how our pain also serves others who may be looking for meaning and succor.

      Keep the faith and stay strong. Also, do share your learnings on this blog.

      Hope to see you here again soon.


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