3 Lessons to Help You Find Peace When Fighting a Hard Battle

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~Proverb

August 3, 2001. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was around six o’clock in the evening when she sat us down. Luther Vandross was singing in the background on the radio: “And it’s so amazing and amazing, I can stay forever and forever. Here in love and no, leave you never.”

Quite ironic when you think about the news I would soon receive.

I had just finished summer school and my sister had just returned from an internship on the East Coast. My mother had such a pensive, yet positive look on her face when she asked us to come into the living room.

“This is hard for me to say, so I am just going to say it: I have cancer.”  

Immediately, my sister and I  broke into tears because, up until that point, every single relative or friend who had battled cancer lost. And in my shocked state, I thought it was perhaps time to start saying goodbye because I was already feeling quite defeated.

The person who had always been the anchor in our family would soon become lighter due to weekly radiation and chemotherapy appointments. Although she physically grew weaker, her actions taught me a few lessons I will never forget.

Today, I would like to share three of them with you:

Learn to Let Go

Impermanence. Everything fades away and nothing lasts forever.

My mom used to have long, beautiful black hair with a sheen that many envied.

Unfortunately, the type of chemotherapy she was being treated with slowly killed her hair cells. As for many women, this was very hard for her to accept because it was a part of her identity, her femininity, and it’s generally what society deems to be beautiful.

But as the appointments stacked up and the strands dwindled away, she had to face a reality that was quite sobering: most of her hair was gone, and she needed to find the courage to ask my father to completely shave her head.

Then the day finally came.

As the remaining hair fell to the ground, Black Rapunzel was replaced by a cancer patient who learned to be grateful for what was instead of trying to hold on to something that no longer existed.

As Steve Maraboli wrote, “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

My mother learned to let go and finally made the decision to move forward.

Inspire Yourself with Your Journey

“That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” is something my mother would say. “So write it all down—the victories, the setbacks, the magical moments, the not so loving moments, and the moments of complete loneliness. Write it all down to serve as a reminder.”

Each day we awaken, we are given a pen with 86,400 seconds of ink to write with.

During her first week of treatments, my mother picked up a journal to write about her fight with the Big C and how she planned to defeat it, even though she was sometimes the one knocked down for a while. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Sure, she wrote about her hair loss, the pain at night, and the sadness she sometimes felt. But she also wrote about the joys of raising her children, the extra energy she could sometimes muster up to walk a bit further, and the faith and hope that was keeping her grounded.

She saw her journal as a way to inspire herself when she wanted to look back and see how far she had come on her journey thus far.

Love Well and Far

Cancer woke us up to the fact that nothing lasts forever, and words that go unsaid may never be spoken.

After my mother’s diagnosis, my close family got even closer as she expressed her desire for us to show more love to each other, and to be grateful not only for the fun, easy times, but also for the tougher times.

That’s what it means to love well and far: loving unconditionally even when it’s hard. Sharing your love even when it’s difficult. Being there for the people you love when they need you the most.

So I ask you these three important questions: Is there anything in your life that you feel you need to let go of? Are you recording the magic moments from your life? Are you reaching far with your love?

I wanted to share these three lessons not only to pay tribute to my mother, who has been in remission for the past twelve years, but also to serve as a beacon of hope for those who may be dealing with something similar right now. It’s hard and it hurts, but now is the time to be stronger and more loving than ever.

Now is the time to love well and far.

Photo here

About Alex Echols

Currently traveling the world with the intention of building a stronger foundation in order to better serve those around him, Alex Echols is considered to be quite the adventurer. He is a published author, coach, and the creator of the One Life Brand and his adventures can be followed at and instagram: alex_echols.

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  • SunriseGuidedVisual

    Ahhhh…. Yes! Thank you!

  • Caroline Kirk

    Fantastic lessons, great post, thanks for sharing, happy adventures Alex 🙂

  • Alex Echols

    And thank you for reading! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Alex Echols

    Caroline, thank you for the very nice words and well wishes. Hope you are doing fantastic!

  • Caroline Kirk

    I am thanks, travelling, while building a blog to serve better also, intrigued by One Life Brand, will check it out on your page, so glad your mother is in good health, she’ll love your written dedication!

  • jyothsna

    “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet” – that is so true.. your mother must be very brave.. also, she must be very proud of you..thank you for the wonderful post, it touched my heart.. (brought tears in my eyes).. i shall pray that god gives you all the love and courage that you need..

  • Steven Thorpe

    Steven Thorpe, August 1st 2013.

    Today I did something really powerful and I feel absolutely wonderful. I just have to share this with anyone willing to listen. Most of you will think I’m completely nuts, however I know there are many who’ll love this as much as I did. Epics times indeed I’m so happy and now I can start following my heart and be all that I can be.

    Today I had to go to a medical examination with ATOS so they could decide if I’m still entitled to remain on benefits/welfare. I’ve been on benefits for about 15years as I’ve been very depressed and anxious most of my life. ATOS strikes fear into the sick, disabled and vulnerable people, every time they get that annual dreaded letter in the post. There are many reports of people just at the thought of having to go and see these monster have committed suicide or attempted suicide. There are also many reports that many have taken there own lives or attempted to after attending these interviews. In other words they are committing murder on the behalf of the British government and there is believe to be hundreds of lives lost. Although it is very hard to pin down exact numbers and ATOS will not release official statistics. I can’t think why, well thats a lie, I know exactly why they’d rather sweep this information under the carpet. It doesn’t take a giant leap to work out that the government just doesn’t want the public to know.

    You have to understand that yes we do need someone to monitor claimants. Most are genuinely sick and do need the financial help from government handouts but however there are a lot of blaggers and cheats. However ATOS are going about it all wrong and the whole organisation need a complete overhaul. They are very impersonal and don’t always get all the facts about the claimants before making the decision. Leaving some very vulnerable people very distressed after their money is stopped. For example if you smile and you put down on your forms that your depressed as I did. They decide that you can’t possible be depressed because you smiled and your money is stopped. People can be depressed and have a sense of humour, for people with mental health problems some days are better than other and unless you go on a really bad day your deemed fit for work.

    There is no rime or reason for some of their decision making, one person can get signed off for having a bad foot and get to keep their money. Then there are people in wheelchairs that are obviously not fit for work and then deemed fit for work. I’ve even heard of stories of people loosing their money because they dress to well but can’t confirm this. This place can be a very harrowing experience for many as it once was for me back when I was Ill. They often expect people that haven’t been outside their front door for years to make the journey. They are often not physically capable of making the journey very easily due to not being very mobile. While some are agoraphobic and are not even brave enough to take their rubbish bin to the end of the drive.

    Anyway that’s enough about what I think about ATOS, I believe I’ve painted and accurate enough picture of this inhuman organisation. They kill and put some of our fellow brother and sisters through hell.

    Anyway my appointment was at 9:30 GMT and I arrived at 9:20 booked in, then showed them my I.D. In the waiting room there was three people in wheelchairs, five that had walking aids of some description, from Walking Sticks to Zimmer frames. A few that obviously had learning difficulties and many that were very anxious. One women had a really bad panic attack and had to be wheeled out of the building, making a scene. The general atmosphere was tense, and they all seemed so downtrodden, maybe because it was the last place on earth they wanted to be. I however couldn’t wait to get called by my examiner as I had lot to get of my chest and boy did I.

    After waiting for approximately an hour in the waiting room observing the comings and goings of the poor people’s, all the while witnessing the antics of the waiting room. My examiner finally called my name. When your depressed and anxious they come out all smiles observing from the moment you leave your seat. If you smile as I did you fail, if you make strong eye contact as I did you fail, I even reached out to shake her hand. They try to lull you into a false sense of security from the out set all the while trying to catch you out. She’s at it, so how are you Steven, I’m blah blah, I forget her name and all the while I’m smiling my head off, I reach out to shake her hand. Ops I fail again I’m to confident, I follow her to the interview room all the while maintaining eye contact and smiling my head off, fail, fail and fail again.

    We enter the room and she shows me a my seat, so Steven tell me about your symptoms, it says here you have depression and anxiety don’t you………I said can I just stop you right there I said. Had depression and anxiety I said. Hmm so what’s changed I was asked, all the while maintaining eye contact and smiling from ear to ear. I proceeded to tell her that after years of being an emotional wreck and being dead inside for so long, wasting most of my life. I told her I’d seen some reports on the Internet about how psilocybin and other psychedelic entheogen’s were a potential cure for depression. I told her after months of reading and research, I’d decided to take my health into my own hands. And that all current methods available to so called healthcare professionals had failed me I was willing to give a anything a try.

    So I tell her that one amazingly magical October night after receiving my Magic Truffles, aka Sclerotia or Philosophers Stones in the post. I ingested the Truffles and a few hours later I was no longer the same man I was. All my symptoms had vanished, no more depression or anxiety remained and my life would never be the same again. Overnight I was cured I told her and I had the best night of my life up to that point and that it was the most important night of my life. The thing is I was so very depressed for so very long and my soul had so much emotional scaring from past traumas. I really just wasn’t living at all, I told her I was depressed because I was living in a past that I just couldn’t get over and let go off. I also said that I was anxious because I was living in the future and constantly worrying about what people thought of me or what tomorrow may bring. It was very debilitating indeed and was just not allowing me to function as a normal human being.

    I said that I realised that night that everything really is mind other matter and that if I didn’t mind it didn’t matter. No longer did I give a damn what anyone thought or said about me. I now live by the mantra that it was none of my business what anyone thinks of me and it serves me very well indeed. I told her that I now knew happiness is a choice and that I now choose to be happy despite my circumstances. I can now analyse my thought processes and if I’m thinking negative thoughts I realise this, ask myself why and adjust accordingly. I now have access to my subconscious and a can monitor my unconscious behaviours and feeling. Ultimately I can now reprogram my brain as I see fit, I now recognise all that I don’t like about myself and try to mend it and I’m constantly on a path of growth and development. Development emotionally, mentally and spiritually I said I met my soul that night for the first time.

    She said so psilocybin, do you experience any side affects? I said yes of course, happiness that no one can take away from me. Compassion, understanding of self and others, I can now put myself in anyone’s shoes and empathise with them. Inner peace, Gaiaphilia love for our Mother Earth, Biophilia love for all life forms, as I realised we are all one. I am now a being of pure love and light and always will be. It has increased my IQ, switched on my imagination and creativity. I now I write and a dance, dancing was always so difficult for me because I was to self-conscious, fear, hesitation and doubt always held me back from realising my full potential. Writing had always be so difficult because I was allegedly was dyslexic I have no qualifications whatsoever. But that’s ok no longer will I allow myself to be defined by a piece of paper you get from a school system that failed me. I also gained inner strength, Strength to face anything life can throw at me and the strength to face all my fears head on. Oh and I used to get really bad migraines but no longer get even mild headaches.

    So do you experience any negative side affects? Hmm not really…….I do get really tired but however that’s ok because even tho I still feel really refreshed. You can’t burn so brightly and not drain your energy reserves.

    So do you take any other drugs, street drugs? No, but some would say psilocybin was a street drug as its highly illegal, maybe they just don’t want people to see through the illusion and wake up. I don’t see naturally occurring entheogen’s as drugs by the way, more like sacred medicines that put you in touch with your soul and nature. They’ve been used in shamanic cultures for thousands of years for healing purposes. It’s only the last few hundred years they have been demonised as the devils work and demonic, more like they realise they can’t enslave a mind freed with psychedelics. Nature provides us with exactly what is needed and Mother Earth is far smarter than any man will ever be.

    Did you ever take street drugs? Yes of course it’s was hard not doing in the environment I come from, it’s a normal every day reality on council estates everyone’s doing it and there is no escape. I don’t even drink alcohol anymore it lowers your IQ and kills braincells, I also believe it only Suppresses your problems making you forget only until it wears off. Psilocybin has the opposite effect, stimulating braincell growth and makes you face your inner demons head on. I believe I was just taking the wrong drugs now I say to myself and maybe if I’d had access to psilocybin years ago I’d of never bothered with street drugs. Maybe I’d of not wasted so much of my life depressed, feeling sorry for myself and suicidal. But that’s ok I no longer live in the past, there is only now and I’ll not waste my time worrying about the future. I see life as a precious gift now and I’m not going to waste another moment of it.

    So do you use any medications? No I won’t take anything man made not even paracetamol. Did you ever? Yes when I was about twenty I was really depressed and went to see my doctor and I was proscribed Effexor, an SSRI antidepressant. It made my situation worse, much worse. You see I was young and green back then, I blindly trusted my doctor to my detriment. Day one I take my first dose and an hour later I feel weird, really weird. Day two no better, I really didn’t like it at all and I was finding it really hard to function. After five to six days the intensity of the strangeness was easing slightly, but day seven I had to return to my doctors on his orders to see how I was doing on the meds. So how you doing Steven he asked, I feel really horrible I said I don’t like it at all. Oh that’s normal you have to give them chance to get into your system, it will wear off. Right today we’re going to double your does come back In two weeks.

    Blindly trusting my doctor I double my dose and continued as asked, he’s a doctor of course he knows what he’s talking about? Wrong! After about two week of misery feeling like absolute crap I was getting really moody, as time went on I was starting to get aggressive and full of anger. Getting snappy with my wife and kids, then of course the arguments started to happen. I was so frustrated all the time and as time went on my aggression exploded, I was turning into a monster. It wasn’t long before every door in the house had been punched full of holes and my fists were bloody. Up to this Point in my life I’d never been aggressive as such as I’d always been so placid. Frustration continued and my relationship with my wife is really taking the strain now and my kids are scared of me. I was an emotional wreck and have more and more suicidal thoughts, eventually going into my cellar to try and hang myself. Didn’t work the rope snapped and my wife found me. A few days later I was arguing with my wife again, then I punched the window through at the top of the stairs. I couple of days after that I throw myself down the stairs head first hoping I’d break my neck.

    A week or two passes by and all hell breaks loose a massive fight with the wife in front of the kids. I was so desperately miserable and frustrated. Anyway my wife was at her wits end and just didn’t understand, I didn’t understand and it was not until later with hindsight I’d put it all together seeing a documentary on tv about families in America suing the pharmaceutical companies because there loved ones had taken their lives on these drugs. The pharmaceutical companies were in denial for years, never wanting to admit to their mistakes as there was just to much money involved. Anyway the fighting continued and one day it got so bad she ran out with the kids and went to her mums, which was about a five minute walk away. I was so desperately broken hearted and I just wanted it to stop, so I steal my wife’s anti-smoking drugs Zybane from the medicine cabinet. I then grab a half bottle of whiskey off the kitchen worktop and proceeded up the stairs intent on ending it all. I strip all the 60 pills from there blister packs and then wash em all down as fast as I cloud. I then lay down and wait to die.

    After what seemed like 10 mins of laying there my wife had returned home as her mum and dad wasn’t home. She comes up the stairs and spots the empty packets and bottle what going on she says, and I burst into tears. She’s like oh my god what have you done and then runs for the phone. Ten minutes later an ambulance arrives, I’m then walked to the ambulance, still lucid but very jittery. It took about ten minutes to get to the A&E by which time I was still able to walk. They take me into an examination room, I sort of remember everything fading to black. I was told when woke 3 days later that I’d passed out in the room, falling to the ground and hitting my head off the sink on the way down. Then apparently I was violently fitting on the floor and it took five of then to hold me down as I was a big strong lad. If my wife’s parents had of been home I’d of not been here today. At the time I’d wished they were in and did for many months. It was a very dark period in my life and it probably cost me my wife in the end.

    So I’ll never take anything man made again unless my life deepened on it, I don’t think the doctors always get it wrong. Isn’t it funny that it was psychedelic research in the sixties and early seventies that led big pharma to look at that part of the brain that SRRI’s target, the serotonin receptors. It was because back then they had some amazing successes with treating various mental illnesses using psychedelics such as psilocybin and LSD. They had great results treating alcohol addiction and even some drugs like heroin and cocaine. The thing is they could not make any money out of natural plants and fungi as it wasn’t patentable. So they start to give volunteers massive doses. Far to much in fact resulting in people having really freaking bad trips and ending up with psychological problems. In turn they where able to manipulating the results, then hiding the good results from the public and really pushing the bad ones. So basically they were lying to us in order to protect their profits and in turn denying us our best chance at happiness.

    They didn’t want a nation of free thinking individuals, that were all about make love not war. They used the media to try and put fear into the hearts and minds of the masses don’t do psychedelic there really bad for you. It was all lies and still they try to maintain this illusion, however this is becoming much harder for them to do as the Internet connects us all and allows us to share the information they just don’t want us to know. Psychedelic people are the most loving people you could wish to meet. If they allowed us to continue to take them, they knew we’d not fight their wars for them. We all know war is extremely profitable so they pass the misuse of drugs act of 1971 and in effect banning all psychedelic research.

    So they peddle that most boring of substances alcohol to kill off our braincells and in turn lowering our IQ,s. They then put big pharma to work on finding drugs that work on the serotonin receptors, as they knew through psychedelic research that somehow mood regulations is controlled by these receptors. It also very strange that SRRI’s inhibit the action of many naturally occurring psychedelics. Also they knew they could make billions if they pushed these horrible drugs and keep our 3rd eyes well and truly closed. Hence keeping us from thinking for ourselves. Many people think they think and that’s understandable as its easier to lie to someone than it is to convince them they’ve been lied to. Come on who wants to admit they have been fooled all their lives, the ego will just not allow it, even when the truth is slapping you in the face.

    But boy oh boy when you do open up your mind with psychedelics you really start to tune in to how powerful your mind can really be. You start to take full control of your mind and see through the web of lies the ruling classes have been spoon feeding us for years. They know in this higher state of consciousness we’ll not allow them to do the thinking for us. They know that in this higher state we’ll unlock our true potential and unite as one. They know we’ll see through their Illusions most have been blind to until now. They know we’ll figure out we don’t need them any longer, as we are so many and they are so few. They have shackled so many for so long to keep us feeding their machine, docile and unquestioning.

    So no the answer was i don’t and won’t take any man made medications. Psychedelic also enable you to make better life choices, we psychedelic people are drawn to better more natural foods, making use more aware of what we put our bodies. We realise that true happiness does not come from material possessions, it does not come from having the best brand names, or a big houses and flash cars. We realise true happiness comes from feeling and love, being master over you own mind. Psychedelic people feel, they really feel with all their hearts and souls, we don’t need a reason to be happy. We just choose to be happy because we can and we know it’s not about that ever so temporary high you get, when you get the new BMW or the latest expensive gadget. The high wares off and then your looking for the next fix and what do you have to do to get it, work and then work some more, keeping you a slave to the machine. Then we commit unspeakable acts of destruction against our fellow human beings and our Mother Earth just to keep the money coming in, so we can keep feeding the temporary high that is so meaningless in end. All this chasing paper keeps us from connecting with our spirits. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, for we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

    It is far more important to nurture our spiritual selfs than our physical selfs and much more rewarding too. We love all people as if they were family and that’s because we know they are family. We loose our egos in turn we realise life isn’t a competition and we loose our judgemental part of ourselves. Egos do don’t serve us as they can be bruised, they cause jealousy they make us feel inadequate when we haven’t got as much money or can’t run as fast as the next person. If we judged a fish by it ability to climb a tree it will have it’s ego bruised and spend it’s entire life thinking its stupid and not worthy. My point is we are all different and we should calibrate our own uniqueness. We shouldn’t try to be like all the people we see on the tv. If we do then most people will just end up feeling inadequate all their lives, we all have gifts but most people never find them because there to busy trying to be someone else. In turn never opening your package and realising your full potential. Psychedelic people realise that the only limits are the ones we set ourselves. Turn off the fricking TV be the star of your own show. Take Truffles and let your imagination run wild and then your see just how unlimited your mind truly is. I can now literally take my mind anywhere in the universe, from the infinitely small, to the infinitely vast. The depth of your mind are limitless and so are you. You really can be the star of you own show. They can fire up you imagination, imagination equals intelligence, and unconditional love for all equals maturity.

    On my forms I’d put that I didn’t go anywhere and I wouldn’t go out on my own and I hated my life and thought of dying all the time. She then asked me is this still true, my reply was not a chance I’m living now I’m truly alive. I’ve started going to concerts and raves and dancing all night. I couldn’t even bring myself to put the wheelie bin out for collection at times. She asked me if I could go to the shops on my own yet and I said yes of corse I even take myself off the long walks in the countryside. Public transport? Yep no problem how do you think I got here this morning. Since I woke up and unplugged myself from the matrix I’ve had the best year of my life and it just keeps getting better and better and I’m very optimistic for my future even tho I know my money will stop. I just don’t care because I refuse to waste my time and energy worrying. Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s problems it only takes always today’s peace.

    She said what about friends, you say here that you don’t have any because you have trust issues? Correction had trust issues and friends yes, I didn’t have any as I didn’t care for them much I proffered my own company. But I’m making them now, I’m sure I’ll make many more and I’m very comfortable in my own company and my own skin. With an imagination like mine it’s impossible to be bored, I write, I sing, I dance and that’s all because I found my Minds eye, for I am limitless.

    So do you still take truffles? Yes. How often? Once or twice a month. What for fun, to have a good time? Well you see the thing is, I’m not perfect and I’m always looking for a better version of myself. So I will keep taking truffles for the rest of my life on monthly maybe twice monthly basis. The thing is every time I go down the rabbit hole I always come back the wisest, strongest and happiest version of my self to date. It feels like course correction and fine tuning of my navigational equipment. It elates my and it tops my happiness back up to 100%. I have revelation after revelation about so many things and I learn more about myself and the nature of reality.
    Yes they can be the best of fun, in the right environment, set and setting are very important.

    I told her the thing is we are meant to take these ancient medicines, sacred plants and fungi and I will fight for my right to take them or will die trying. No has the right to tell me I can’t explore my own consciousness or what I can and can’t put in my body. The universe gifted these medicine so that we may become all we can be and ultimately realise we are the universe and the universe is us. I seek nothing but the betterment of myself, humanity and above all love. I commit no crime I hurt no one, I teach people how to think not what to think. I don’t want to lead anyone, for if I help others, I help myself by making the world a better and more loving place.

    Ok Steven brilliant and thx for being honest, you’ll get your decision in next week or so. I laughed and said yeah it will be, right your on your own and go get a job. Either that or the police will be banging down my door, but oh well I’m ready to face whatever. I fear nothing, I’m not afraid, life is an adventure and I can’t wait to see what’s around the next bend. We said our goodbyes, shook hands, both still all smiles, I think she had an interesting time and I certain had a great one.

    I left the building with the biggest grin on my face, raised my arms to wing position and I was skipping along singing. Oh I can fly, I can fly and oh I’m alive, I’m alive. I couldn’t stop laughing or remove the grin from my face. I was fist pumping the air, winging it, dancing cheering all the way back to the metro link. I even shed a few tears of pure joy, I didn’t care one bit that there were people around and I felt alive truly alive.

  • Marsi

    So glad your story had a happy ending! Thanks for sharing it.

  • Hey Alex, powerful message and I must say your mom is beautiful in every way…so strong and courageous! Thanks for sharing this story!!!

  • Phillippa Holland

    Great article, thanks for sharing so freely your experience.

  • lv2terp

    Beautiful lessons, thank you for sharing your story! 🙂

  • activist09

    So touching..Thank you ..

  • Alex Echols

    Thank you 🙂 whereabouts are you traveling these days?

  • Alex Echols

    Jyonthsna, thank you so much for your incredible words. I appreciate it and hope you are doing very well yourself.

  • Alex Echols

    And THANK YOU for taking the time out to read it, Marsi 🙂

  • Alex Echols

    Thomas, thank you! She is indeed very beautiful and very, very strong. Hope you are doing well.

  • Alex Echols

    Thank you Phillippa 🙂

  • Alex Echols

    Thank you for reading, lv2terp!

  • Alex Echols

    Thank you, activist09.

  • porterman

    great article Alex. i remember that same feeling when my own mother called me to tell me that news. thank god she is also still here 11 years later.
    impermanence – something I am trying to get used to as i leave my old life behind and embark upon a new one, and try to forgive myself for the mistakes I made so my past doesn’t ruin my present and future.
    thanks for sharing.

  • Alex Echols

    And thank you for sharing your perspective. Beautiful. Take care,