Simple rule during uncertain times

I keep reminding myself that the rule worked.


This doesn’t mean I liked implementing it.

It actually made me quite uncomfortable.

But boy, did I need it these last few weeks.

The rule is simple: Remember that we only know what we know.

My best friends and I developed it back in the years when they were having babies.

There was that stressful time when waiting for results, thinking about the zillion things that could go wrong. We realized our over-active brains were driving us crazy.

“We only know what we know,” we would remind ourselves.

When you’re busy letting your mind race or going down the deep dark hole of Dr. Google, it’s easy to forget the answer to this basic question.

How much do we really know in this moment?

I’ll help you with a cheat sheet.

The answer is, “Very little.”

During baby time we knew that one of us was pregnant and had access to good health care.

That’s about it.

All the other things?

They were just stories in our head. Very dangerous stories, I might add, with the power to do a lot of damage.

This is not to say sometimes test results don’t come like you want them.

All the more reason for the rule.

When you get the unwanted news is when you really need energy.

Which is how I come to tell you I lived through two biopsies in recent weeks. One was for me.

In the moments I strayed from the rule, I lost count of the body parts I was sure the doctor was going to tell me I would soon need to remove.

When I got the good news that my results were benign, I ran to tell Husband.

“That’s wonderful news,” he said as he hugged me. “Something’s going to get you eventually, but not that. Not today at least.”

That Husband logic would normally have had me scratching my head longer than it did were I not focused on my younger friend.

A few weeks ago, she found a lump.

We supported her through the ultrasound, biopsy and the 10 it took to get those results.

10 days of reminding ourselves that we only know what we know.

The results were not what we wanted to hear.

She does, indeed, have breast cancer.

And so now we rally.

With what we know.

We are fresh and ready because we didn’t deplete our energy tank with all the What if’s.

You might be wondering if this is the thing to talk about at the height of the holiday season?

I say there is no better time.

Remember to ask yourself this week, “What do you really know?”

Why didn’t a family member come?

Why didn’t a friend send a holiday card?

What do you know about the circumstances?

Give yourself the gift of the rule.

We only know what we know.

So very little.

The rule really works.

Consider it my little gift to you.

Daryn Kagan is the author of the book “Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.” Email her at

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