This Months’ post comes from a young breast cancer survivor, Regina, who describes the challenge of living life as a cancer survivor facing her worst fears of her cancer returning while at the same time trying to put into practice the lessons she has learned from Cancer.
Dancing in the Rain..
“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
Putting this into real life practice is often difficult for most of us. As a cancer survivor, I have often felt that there is extra pressure to “have figured it out.” You know what I mean – cancer survivors are supposed to have this down. It’s like a two for one package deal: get cancer and instantly appreciate life more and savor every moment, practice gratitude, don’t waste time being angry; all that stuff.
Yeah, sure, I go through periods of being more mindful and feeling more grateful; but then I seem to slip right back into those all too familiar habits. Each time, with an added bonus of those fun little messages running around in my head. Things like: ”but didn’t you learn anything from this cancer experience? “
Recently, I had a “scare”. Once cancer has entered your world, every ache and pain and unusual symptom is cancer until proven otherwise. During that time, I vacillated between being scared out of my mind that my cancer had returned, and periods of incredible peace and calm. At times I surprised myself that I was actually able to really BE in the moment. It got me wondering: maybe, just maybe, I had learned something after all these years.
How many times have I just floated through life? After all – most days, I’m just making it. Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days; and days just drift by and turn into years. All colliding into one another. Life in our house is busy, I mean crazy busy. Kids grow older, birthdays pass and life flies by. Schedules are packed and days are spent running from one thing to the next. Soccer practice, games, band recitals, laundry, grocery shopping and sitting in traffic. It’s easy to get caught up and lost in the blur that can consume us.
Until a “wake up call” comes a calling.
During this most recent “call”, I thought about a lot of things.
I spent time thinking about my friends who had died too young. How had their families moved on?
I thought about what was really important to me.
My family. The amazing connections with friends that I have. Being heard, really understood. The feeling of unconditional love. The warm sun on my face, and of course my favorite foods. I thought about what a gift cancer has been for me these years (strange as it may sound).
I wondered a lot about how my kids would do without me. Who would help them with their homework and send in their camp registrations? I wondered who my husband would remarry and how she would learn to love and accept my children. I wondered how my kids would cope? Would they be resilient enough to move on at some point? I wondered about a lot of things if I died.
At the same time, I spent a lot of time feeling very grateful for everyone and everything that I had experienced in my life. I thought about the fact that many people never get to experience what I have had. So many people just float, and life just passes them by. The day to day becomes just that, and even the exciting becomes just another birthday or celebration of some kind. Then one day, they wake up and find that they somehow got old.
This time, I made no promises. This time, I just felt grateful when the tests came back “NO CANCER.”
I am grateful for the lessons of cancer. To have the opportunity to be able to learn something at a relatively young age that some people don’t get the opportunity to ever learn. I do miss the innocence of not fully appreciating my mortality – that is gone forever.
Tomorrow is another day and another chance to try to live life intentionally, to be more mindful, more grateful and to not forget about what’s important. Tonight, I kiss my husband and kids goodnight and tell them I love them. All the while thinking: how lucky and how blessed I am to be here with them, at least until I drift into the next episode of amnesia.