I hate cancer. I wish it would be completely annihilated and the only thing I have wished cancer on is cancer itself. I never, ever want to say anything good about such a vile, invasive, life-stealing disease. I do, however recognize that there are things that have come out of my situation that are actually really positive. I’d like to take some time to recognize those thing and I have listed them below. Here’s to the good stuff, the good life and the things that cancer has done to me that have made me better.
1. Opening my eyes – In some ways I used to be so blinded by life, so caught up in the he said, she said, I have to have name brand clothing, material matters kind of world. As cliche as it may sound, none of that stuff matters. Really. It doesn’t. My eyes are wide open and I can see that now.
2. Showing me that I can do ANYTHING – Yes,anything. The emotional turmoil of a cancer diagnosis was almost too difficult for me to process. The sudden sickness I felt when I heard the words, “you have cancer” made my spirit drown in a sorrow that I never imagined. That in itself was something I never thought I would have to overcome. But I did. Since then, I have become more adventurous and willing to try anything. I test my limits all the time and I have a long list of things I want to accomplish. And I will.
3. Showing me how to love – I was never a touchy-feely type of person. Hugging was awkward and saying I love you was weird. I wasn’t raised in that type of a household and I rarely told the people I love exactly how I felt. That. Has. Changed.
4. Revealing my true passions – I don’t think I was ever truly dedicated to anything until after my cancer diagnosis. I think cancer makes you do a double take, or even a triple take and say “what am I really doing with my life?” That has turned out to be a really incredible thing for me. Passion is poetry in motion. It is the things I love all balled into one and creating an upbeat motivated lifestyle. Whether I’m raising funds for cancer related causes or running my heart into sunset I know that I’m doing it because I feel passionate about it.
5. Teaching me to dance through life – Yes. Dance. I’m not all about waking up on Monday morning and wishing it would go away anymore. I’m about embracing it and dancing through the day. We have all heard the phrase, “enjoy every day because you never know if it will be your last.” People say it all the time. But do they really do it? And do they comprehend the fact that someday we will all have a last day?
6. Reminding me to breathe – Do you breathe fully? Do you allow your mind to relax and take in the air around you? I do. Paying close attention to the way I am breathing has taught me so much about myself. I never realized how much panic I was causing myself in the past until I took the time to slow down, breathe in for five, hold and breathe out for five. Breathing helped get me through my diagnosis, the nerve wracking scans and the anxiety that tagged along. Breathing changes everything and I continue to use breath control in every part of my life.
7. Connecting me to the most amazing people on earth – The first thing I did when I was diagnosed was hunt down every single cancer survivor that I could find. I wanted to talk, vent, cry and physically see people surviving and thriving. I am glad that I did because I have been in the company of some really breathtaking individuals. I know amputees that are training for marathons and half marathons, people were not supposed to survive and did, survivors that remind me every day that we must continue to fight. There is always someone in my corner and for that I am beyond grateful. I am never lonely. Ever.
8. Giving me permission to feel sorry for myself every once in a while – I think lots of us put on a façade. We want to feel and be strong, no matter what. Cancer has taken me on a road full of potholes that I thought would never end. It has beaten my spirit down into a place called self pity time and time again. In some ways I think that’s been a good experience for me. I don’t think we ever reach our full potential until after we’ve been knocked down a few times. I know now that feeling blah about my situation and allowing myself to grieve is a totally acceptable and normal experience.
9. Letting me see the power in something like a good song – Power in a song? Yes, of course. After my cancer diagnosis, a fellow survivor emailed me some Youtube videos that helped him with his experience. Sharing both his experience and the music that helped him endure it was therapeutic. It was music that altered my mood at some of my low points. It is music that pushes me when I’m in the middle of a long distance run and all I want to do is quit. It is what I call “feel good” music that makes me think about the good stuff.
10. Showing me LIFE – Life isn’t just living. It isn’t just breathing and getting through the day. It isn’t waking up in the morning, going to work and going to bed at night. Life is the sunrise on the way to work, the people you interact with at at work, the relationships you form throughout the days and making sure to say I love you to the people that make your heart feel good. That’s life. And I can thank cancer for showing me that.