My mother has battled cancer four times in her lifetime. In my opinion, those experiences make her somewhat of an expert by default.
I was six years old when my mother first contracted Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma. Like most people, she had never heard of this before, nor had she understood that the lump she had in her neck for an extended period of time was something to be concerned about until my pediatrician noticed it during my visit and implored her to visit her doctor. Stage III was her diagnosis when they finally began treatment (there are only four stages).
The first lesson that was drilled into my head from that experience was that early detection is EVERYTHING! Please take note.
My mother survived the first cancer, it was tough and she was terrified, but she made it through with the support of so many people who came rushing to assist her. She went on to battle two more cancers and had one major battle with bacterial meningitis. All in all, my mother is pretty much my expert on catastrophic illness and resilience. She often used to talk to new cancer patients, and others about the “gift of cancer” in which she wholeheartedly believed.
The idea of illness being a gift is that a patient, and those who love them, get the opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and the time they have or don’t have in this physical form. I have grown up and developed my own mantra, “our tomorrows are not guaranteed.” I use that as a touchstone when making big decisions, and sometimes small ones too. Being raised by someone whose life was so tenuous left quite an impression on me.
I encourage you to live each day as if it was precious, the gift that it truly is. It is so easy to get caught up in the to do lists of living, and although those things are indeed important however, how well the dust bunnies in the dining room were addressed is not what most people are remembered for. Touch those around you, give of your precious time, forgive and release that which weighs you down. If you don’t want to bring it with you, get rid of it, if you will miss it when it/them or you are gone, spend time with it/them! Those are truly the things that make a thriving life.
My mother died 23 years after her first catastrophic illness, she succumbed to the last cancer. Although her life was rarely easy or care free, I never got the sense that she left here leaving anything unsaid or unfelt. My wish is that we all are able to leave in this type of peace.
What is your touchstone or reminder to live your life fully?
Here is to living as if we were dying!