As a Marriage and Family Therapist of 30 years, I’ve watched my clients grow as they learned to be kind and compassionate with themselves, while working through difficult issues. I hadn’t found anything written in this area integrated with our faith. I wasn’t interested in writing on the subject.
In March of 2013, I felt God prodding me to attend the Mt Hermon’s Writers Conference. I finally gave in. Unwillingly. I was happy as a therapist and didn’t want or need anything else to do.
To my surprise, one editor was interested in my work, and asked me to send her a lengthy book proposal. I did, and crossed it off my list. Now I could go back to being a therapist and professor.
Four months later my life changed. I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and went through treatment over the next nine months. Seven months into treatment I received an email from the publisher offering me a book contract. I was stunned and delighted…and got on the phone that night to find an agent. I was through the worst of the treatment at this point and thought I could work on the book.
One might think this is where the story ends…but no. Four days after I finished treatment, I couldn’t take a deep breath. I was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis from the chemotherapy and radiation (a rare side-effect). PF as we call it, is a progressive lung disease that has a 3-5 years life expectancy. In July 2014 I went on supplemental oxygen and closed my counseling practice. I finished the edits, and Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend was released July 7, 2015.
Throughout this process I experienced God in powerful ways:
~ He set up a writing career for me before I developed huge health problems. I received a contract easily…not because of anything unique about me, but because He knew I needed to be on the fast track to publication. I am grateful to Him for giving me a new purpose, and a way to contribute to others in a meaningful way. This has made all the losses easier to handle.
~ Having a terminal illness with no cure is rough. Despite such devastating news and the way my life has changed, I’ve been blessed by God’s support and the love and encouragement of family and friends. There’s still much to be grateful for.
Self-compassion (S-C) has helped me get through this season. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and then PF, I decided to be a good friend to myself. S-C helps me be kind and caring in the ways I talk to myself, take care of myself, encourage myself, and accept the volumes of prayer and support from my friends and family. I am committed to not turn on myself or abandon myself during these difficult times.
I know God has a purpose for PF in my life, and in the lives of others. I don’t need to know what those plans are. I trust Him.
I still do radio interviews and limited speaking (via Skype/facetime), blogging, writing and encouraging others. My life has changed and shrunk because of this illness. I focus on what I am still able to do…which is a lot. My lungs are disabled, but I’m not. I’m still the same person with Christ by my side…just with an oxygen tube.
Kim is the author of Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend. Her blog, “Self-Compassion for Real Life” integrates the transforming power of self-compassion and faith www.KimFredrickson.com/blog.