Bill Hemmer: “You said cancer changes your life, and oftentimes for the better.”
Joel Siegel: “Yes…. Gilda Radner… said this in her book. What cancer does is, it forces you to focus, to prioritize, and you learn what’s important. I mean, I don’t sweat the small stuff. I used to get angry at cab drivers. It’s not worth it…. And when somebody says you have cancer, you realize it’s all small stuff. And what Gilda said is, if it weren’t for the downside, everyone would want to have it. But there is a downside.”
~American Morning, CNN, 13 June 2003
Happy Cancerversary To Me!!
Two years ago today, I reported to be infused with a toxic
battery acid medication as I had been for days and weeks of this protocol.
I was doing my best to keep the faith but after months long struggle with pneumonia and too many rounds of chemo, I had NOTHING left in me.
I felt like I was on the verge of drowning. Like I’m swimming my hardest against the current to get to the beach I can see in the distance. If I stop swimming I’ll be carried completely out to sea but my everything burned, hurt, each stroke getting harder and harder to make.
After so many months of treatment, I developed a close friendship with two wonderful nurses. If I didn’t have one, I’d have the other.
I actually looked forward to visiting with them, even if that meant it was going to hurt a little.
They gauged how well I was doing by what treats I baked and brought in that day or week.
When you are a food pusher, you can’t help but let the food do much of the talking. Nothing says I LOVE YOU more than my peanut butter cookies… unless you’re allergic, sorry.
My mother did the same, asking only what’s for dinner to find out if I was worse than I was letting on.
On this day two beautiful beaming faces were there to greet me.
As I slumped into my almost comfortable plastic covered recliner and assumed the position to get poked, they come bounding in dancing, singing some tune that sounded like it belonged to TGI Friday’s.
One was carrying a cookie cake, the other was waving plastic leis and had apple juice for me with a little umbrella swirly straw and all.
On the cake was a frosting palm tree on a tiny island.
“Congratulations! (puts a lei over my head) You reached the beach.”
It was still a long road of healing ahead and some things were permanently damaged but all the tests said….
NO SIGN OF CANCER!!!!
Totally like a movie, when time slows down as the character processes.
I stammered out a sentence that sounded like I had just developed a severe stuttering problem and decided from here to for I’d only be speaking backwards… I gave my best impression of a very confused Ozzy Osbourne.
I wanted to do cart wheels, sing from the tippy top of the mountains and throw up all in the same second.
Beating this insidious disease had become our full time occupation.
Grateful, Grateful, Grateful to be here and share this life with you my friends!
Since it’s my Happy Cancerversary, I would like to change the way I view those memories.
We all know or can assume that cancer makes Hell look like a 4 Star Resort complete with live in maid and cook BUT what you might not be aware of is that Gilda Radner hit the nail on the head in the quote at the top of this article.
The experience I went through left a profound impact on my life and most of it left me better for it!
Happy Cancerversary to me!
I can hardly believe it’s been 2 years!
It feels like forever ago but still so fresh and raw in my heart.
I want to tell you about the bright side, the good that I received from such a dark time.
The Lemonade that came from our Lemons.
My Lemonade List:
#1- My Hair is AWESOME!!!
When I was diagnosed my hair was so long I could almost sit on it. I’d fried it out after years of coloring but it was one of my favorite features. When my hair grew back, it did have much more grey but now it’s down to my shoulder blades. It’s soft, thick, healthy and super easy to manage. Best part is that it now curls ever so gently along the bottom… just like I’d been trying to achieve with perms and curling irons all these years!? I don’t have to do a thing but wash and brush it to make it do exactly what I’ve always wanted. AWESOME bonus! Plus it’s REALLY nice to have hair! Bad hair days DON’T exist anymore because I could care less what form it takes, I appreciate that it keeps my noggin so warm.
#2- I have a very deep connection with my body.
Ewww, that sounds creepy and full of granola tree hugging!? I promise it’s not.
I would use the time I HAD to be still to meditate often. To focus and guide my breathing. To develop much more control of individual muscles, breathing patterns, anxieties and control of my own thoughts. I have had to study intricately how this body works and learn to listen closely to it. It’s very empowering when you realize that you have the power to heal thy self daily by the foods that you consume and tapping into the resources that already reside within you. Strength came from the wisdom that lies within. That strength quiets my often anxiety ridden mind and prompts me to take the very best care of myself. Regular meditation and yoga practice has helped me to overcome and achieve many things in a variety of areas in my life. It’s not just for those cool yogis in robes spouting incredible wisdom… it’s for schlumps like us too.
#3- Look at the Soul Not the Package.
Losing my hair, puffing up like a deadly fish and feeling like the bottom of the litter box guided me to see the light inside of people not the package they are wrapped in. Yes, I still goof on people dressing badly like me but I am hyper aware that we are all fragile souls that need loving, encouraging and understanding. All of us are in the stages of something that deserves to be honored and loved. You know the tale of walking in a man’s shoes… I don’t want my shoes to pinch anymore. I read name tags and thank people personally. I look directly at people. I’ll spend an extra 20 minutes in the produce section chatting it up with someone who looked a little lonely or sad. Smiling at strangers is second nature. I understand that people can hurt so badly mentally &/or physically but look totally normal and fine on the outside. We all need a little room to grow and heal. We’re all on a wicked journey, why not rock it together?!
#4- No fear of needles.
When I was young, I would pass out when I’d have my blood taken or even immunizations.
3,000 + needle sticks later, needles are nothing compared to the idea of my daughters dating. Although it really freaks people out when they go to draw your blood and you tell them what veins to use.
#5- The worst already happened so why not try it?
I felt like we had so much to do, try and enjoy. Confronting my own mortality flipped my fear switch so hard it broke it a bit. Now there is very little I fear left in me… it was replaced by curiosity and passion! I couldn’t stand the idea of wasting a dream, a goal, time anymore. So, we opened a couple businesses. Officially got married. I started this blog. Started teaching Yoga again. Took some fun trips. Gave speeches at women’s retreats and connected with the magic of survivors. Rode dirt bikes, went surfing, danced singing at the top of our lungs in the middle of the desert under the moon in our sea bear circles the kids drew. Bought things, sold stuff. Learned more than we could have ever imagined. We LIVE our dreams… even if it’s just the small ones sometimes. Freaky Leaps of Faith became our M.O. Doing it badly, learning and then busting out even better ideas. Bucking what doesn’t work for us and blazing the trails to the places we want to go. Fear held me back and kept in in the corner quietly wishing for the moment MY moment would take me by the nose and lead me. I kicked fear to the curb, there is no ceiling anymore. I don’t wait for it, I make it happen.
#6- Stuff is just stuff and it just takes up room.
Stuff, junk, that thing you REALLY NEEDED and then never use. The clothes in the closets, the shoes, purses, watches. The collections, the stuff in bins in the garage that you haven’t touched in years. Use it or lose it! Lighten up! No cute perfect purse saved my life. The need to own those boots would only cause financial hardship. It’s all just stuff that we dust, pay to store and can’t part with because MAYBE just maybe one day we might use it. Maybe it falls under not sweating the small stuff as much anymore but it’s not about acquiring stuff, it’s about filling your life with love, passion and beauty with those you treasure.
Standing up for yourself and requiring those in your life keep respectful boundaries isn’t easy but it is necessary. I used to nod in agreement… Oh yeah, uh I totally get it, um hmm. Then go google it. Now, I ask questions or admit that I don’t know a thing about that topic but would love to learn more. People LOVE to share their knowledge and I have learned far more from chatting it up with the farmer’s market guy that was trying to overcharge me for produce than I had all week. Old me might not have said anything and been super annoyed but now, I lovingly razzed him. I got the deal, he now knows me personally AND gave me a whole free apple pie while spouting the herbal remedy for the sore throat tea I should be drinking. You are not some big bad bitch for having standards, requiring people treat you with respect and standing up for what you know is right. Provided you are keepin’ it kind!
#8 I give myself PERMISSION to…
Eat a cookie
Do what excites and drives the artiest to create
Hike longer than planned
Wear my favorite white athletic socks even though they look tacky, when ever I please
Spend a day cooking because I’m having a great time
Wear my Elmo jammies for more than 24 hours if it so moves me
Eat another cookie
Enjoy things that bring me joy
Make my personal yoga practice a priority
LOVE my silly goofy quirks
To have a good cry every so often
Own and embrace my flaws while making it my goal to encourage others in those raw weird odd times because we all need some really exceptional people in our lives. Not many, just exceptional.
Spend 2 hours gabbing with an old friend on the phone- it’s good for the soul
Stop apologizing for EVERYTHING
Write my own rules and set clear boundaries
Be Happy and let the Happy SPARKLE
Leave the laundry in the basket overnight to get all wrinkled because I have a date with a not so little person that is pretty dang special
Love myself and know that I am worth it
To turn off my phone and not be available during meals
Blame the kids as the reason we HAD to go for ice cream but the reality is, I’m REALLY craving Watermelon Fro Yo.
Make lots of mistakes and have a great time while I step in it as I learn
Love like today is all we have
#9- I can now toss my cookies at will and silently.
I haven’t figured out exactly how this works into my list of super powers yet, but I’m sure it does. It is a crafty skill that I have mastered in the name of preserving my pride. When you can silently ralph into the bag in your purse on isle 3 and the lady at the other end of the isle has not a clue… you can appreciate this strange gift.
#10- We are stronger than ever before.
After 17 years of being in my life, my Handsome Prince and I thought we know everything there is to know about each other. We’ve been high, we’ve been low. We’ve shared every range of emotion together. Being pressed under tremendous stress, we learned that we don’t break. We turn into diamonds. The world around us may turn to sand but our foundation goes beyond love, respect and promises of forever. He’s broken down all my protective walls, demanded to know even if it is too much info and be a part of every last thing in my life. He’s my biggest fan, my protector, my Handsome Prince. We make each other so much better and amplify our best qualities. It’s the most amazing feeling to know that I have a partner that is ever constant and unwavering in his belief, love, support and encouragement of me and our family. I never thought lying on the bathroom floor together or hanging out in an infusion room would make us unbreakable but it’s true. As if we cemented up all the little cracks in our life and made it solid and whole. We’ve both folded ourselves inside out and been raw pure with each other. We argue ONLY in the shower because water only stays hot for 15 minutes and who can fight dirty when your naked and exposed any who… disagreements need not last any longer than 15 minutes or you are REALLY motivated to compromise quick. Our kids see the depth we have for one another and that makes me proud. Sure we have our issues and stumbling blocks we face like every couple. The difference is how we choose to go about it and view it. It’s amazing to know that what ever I do, I have the support of my Handsome Prince 200%.
I still can not talk or write about this without tears.
Cancer isn’t some awesome gift, it’s just the cards that were dealt and how we played them.
Such a time of extremes. Takes me right back to specific moments, the smells, the feelings, the burning, the pain, the hope, the desperation, the fear… swirls all together when I think about it. Deep breath.
Happy Cancerversary to me!
I am thankful today as I am every single day, to be here with my family.
I am thankful you’re here sharing this special day with me.
I know it might not seem like a great big deal but I figure we celebrate the 4th of July.
Today is my Independence Day from Cancer!
I was liberated by a whole lot of amazing doctors and nurses that kept trying and kept me going. I was free to resume my normally scheduled life.
I owe much to my children.
I can not begin to express to you how outstanding my kids really are. They seem to rise to a challenge. They pushed me, helped me and never for a second believed that I wouldn’t get better. Pure unconditional love I received from 4 young people I admire so much. I couldn’t be any more proud of who they were and who they are today. Compassionate, creative, beautiful people that I am so very blessed to share this life with.
Hug your family members, call a friend and tell them how special they are, plant a big fat smooch on Fido… Today is a gift!
Take a deep breath. Hold it.
Every second is a new beginning full of wonder and brimming with possibilities.
I don’t hold any great and awesome truths of the universe.
I do know that Love is the answer for me. Why I fight, work and stay strong… all for my favorite people.
You are one of them.
Let’s eat some cake, do cart wheels and throw some confetti!!!!
It’s my 2ND Independence Day!
Happy Cancerversary to Me!
From the moment I was diagnosed I never felt like a victim,
I was a survivor before it and I will be until my last breath.
Happy Cancerversary to me…. AND MANY MORE!!!!!!
Not Just Surviving But Thriving,