Anne Bednar is a wife and mother of seven who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2022. In this excerpt from the All In podcast, she shares how she found relief from feeling overwhelmed in the face of her diagnosis.
This excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones Pearson: When you’re dealing with something like a cancer diagnosis, how does choosing to be in the present bring freedom?
Anne Bednar: I’ve come to understand being present as a way out of the feeling of bondage and the feeling of fear and uncertainty.
One night I felt so sad about the prospect of me possibly not seeing all the milestones that I want to see in my twins or in my other children. I was so fearful and overwhelmed by that. At times I’ve had a hard time praying because I couldn’t even focus my thoughts, so that night I actually turned to a meditation app that had been such a blessing to my life in the months leading up to this diagnosis. I listened to a meditation by Brooke Snow, and in it, she said feeling overwhelmed is a symptom of not being present.
And that was so powerful to me because at times in the past, even before this diagnosis, I felt so burdened by regret—of something that I said, or regret of something that I wish I had the bandwidth to do and couldn’t. Or I feared something that may or may not even happen in the future. But as I meditated and came in tune with the Spirit, I had such a powerful, freeing moment when I realized that I can be free as long as I don’t fear the future, I put the past in perspective, and I try with all my might to focus on the present. Through that meditation and by calming my heart and my mind, I was able to pray that night in a way that I’ve never prayed before. I found a peace that allowed me to sleep; I’d had a lot of sleepless nights up to that point.
I’m so grateful for that perspective shift. There is power when we focus on what we can control in the moment, making the most of that moment, and not living in the past or fearing the future.
I recently went to one of my husband’s lectures at Brigham Young University, and a quote he shared took on new meaning for me. It’s a quote by President Henry B. Eyring, and he says, “I cannot promise an end to your adversity in this life. I cannot assure you that your trials will seem to you to be only for a moment. One of the characteristics of trials in life is that they seem to make clocks slow down and then appear almost to stop.” And I can attest that that’s happened in my case. Now back to the quote: “There are reasons for that. Knowing those reasons may not give much comfort, but it can give you a feeling of patience. Those reasons come from this one fact: in Their perfect love for you, Heavenly Father and the Savior want you fitted to be with Them to live in families forever. Only those washed perfectly clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can be there.”1
As I listened to that quote, I thought, ultimately, we know we will all die; that’s a part of mortality, right? If we accept that fact, and we recognize that death is not the end, then that’s not what we should be fearing. In reality, the end ultimately is what we become in the process; the ultimate end is what we make of ourselves through hardships and trials. And that is hopefully a person fitted to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever. I’m so grateful for that perspective shift and how it’s changed the way that I think about this diagnosis.
Listen to the interview with Anne Bednar in the player below or by clicking here. You can also read a full transcript here.
- Henry B. Eyring, “Mountains to Climb,” Ensign, May 2012, 25–26.