Fuel for Growth (Part 2 of Michelle’s series)

by Michelle Karl

Michelle’s first SaraBella blog post, “Cancer, Set Me Free” shared her insight about her 16 month battle with (against) stage 2 breast cancer. The below post, “Fuel For Growth” is part 2 of this series. Michelle’s family is beginning a 3-week road/boat trip through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana & British Columbia — to fish, camp, explore, reflect, and rejoice. She will continue to share reflections, adventures, challenges, and growth. We’re honored that Michelle is sharing her story with us, so we can share it with you. Enjoy!


We are on the eve of departure. We still do not know where we will go first. My husband has long awaited his chance to fish the big rivers of Montana. He has several in mind, but fate, timing, logistics, and our direction will all play a part in where we first land.

I think that may be true in life, too. We always have choice, it is a gift. However, our choice, intention, and desire do not always dictate our direction or where we land.

I was recently reading Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy”. They talk about post traumatic stress, a consequence of facing a crisis or trauma that shakes our lives. It happens when something that was previously safe in our lives becomes unknown. Often, there is a loss that is part of the picture. It can be scary and overwhelming.

However, psychologists have now learned that there is another outcome. Post Traumatic Growth. I already like this better. The term applies to how some people can take a traumatic experience in their life and find good. They grow, they learn, they change, they empower themselves. What they have survived becomes the motivator and inspiration for them to seek out better, more fulfilling experiences in their lives.

This is what I am committed to. My suffering and my family’s suffering over the last year will not be wasted. It was not just about concurring breast cancer and walking through it gracefully. It is also about learning from it and improving who I am and the choices I make.

I do not want to use the next three weeks to forget about the last year and a half. I want to use the next three weeks to cement it in my memory. To use it as fuel to keep me committed to being the best, most loving person I can be.

I am not exactly sure where I will end up. I have an idea of where I would like to go, but just like the question of where we will first fish, I don’t have the answer. Just the motivation to get there and the absolute trust that I will.

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