We live in a world where everything is instant. Lights, computers, television sets and dishwashers turn on with the press of a button. Instant gratification, however, is the polar opposite of patience. And patience is required in abnormal quantities when dealing with a life challenge like cancer. So here’s a handy little list of things to remember when it comes to practicing your patience:
1. Look at the big picture and see it from as many angles as you can.
2. Patient people live better lives. Being impatient causes stress and that’s a bad thing.
3. Remember, you only have what you’ve been given to work with, no matter how much you wish you had more.
4. Remember what really matters.
5. You will always get what you need, which is sometimes more important than what you want. (When in doubt on this one, refer back to #4.)
Athletes do it, politicians do it, actors do it. It’s called visualization – seeing yourself in the place you really want to be. But can it be as effective when we face serious illness? I think it can.
The more we lament the worst case scenrio, the more negative signals we send to our brains and our bodies, and the more we begin to believe in that dark scenario. It soon becomes our reality.
But the reverse is also true. If we visualize ourselves as healthy, happy humans, it can become our reality as well.
I am neither doctor nor theologian, but I KNOW prayer, positive thinking, and visualization works. If you see it, you will believe it. After all, what have you got to lose?
A few weeks after my surgery, a very dear friend told me about her darkest days. When all seemed to be closing in on her, she made a list of 5 things she was for which she was thankful – things that couldn’t be taken away through loss of money, health, or even death.
What a great idea! Ever the over-achiever, I made a list including 10 things for which I was thankful. I put a copy in my wallet, one at my desk and one in my night stand. I read those lists multiple a bunch of times every day. Try it!
It makes my heart swell each time I remember how much good surrounds me.
Pick a date. Do the exam every month. Know thy breast!
We think of courage when we think of firefighters and soldiers and police offers. We’re hesitant to associate the word with ordinary lives, and we NEVER seek the label for ourselves. NEWSFLASH: courage comes in sizes to fit all people and all occasions!
If you’re battling cancer or any other disease, you’re courageous. If you’re a loved one watching the battle, you’re courageous. I you have helped a child, an animal a senior citizen, a homeless person to have a better day, you’re courageous. If you struggle just to get out of bed in the morning, you’re courageous.
Most importantly, every tiny act of courage you do, is a lesson in courage for those watching you. Courage is contagious – spread it around!
When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer big changes are on the horizon for her and her family. Their lives will never be the same – even with a good prognosis and a clean bill of health. Change is inevitable. But is that a bad thing?
There is an urban legend that the Chinese word for change is made up of two characters – one means danger and the other, opportunity. Doesn’t matter if the legend is true, what a powerful way of looking at change!
We change every day with every experience. We must.
We can hide our heads in fear that the change will bring bad things to our door. Or we can look for the opportunity that change brings us: a new appreciation for life, meeting new people we otherwise wouldn’t have, finding new purpose for our lives.
So buddy, can you spare some change?
When you receive a diagnosis of breast cancer, your world becomes filled with BIG things. Every test, every conversation, every decision has HUGE consequences.
In the end, though, it’s the LITTLE things that warm your heart. A hug, a smile, a little ditty to remind you how special you are. The Sparkle Caps Project is like that.
Using her own money plus any donations she receives, a lovely lady from South Carolina (a breast cancer “winner” herself) puts together gift bags with books, goodies, and sparkly caps for women who need a little pick-me-up during their treatment.
It’s one of those LITTLE things that’s really a BIG deal!
All those who think they have absolutely the worst problems in the world, please raise your hand. Absurd request, right? Yet, when dark things happen, like a diagnosis of cancer, we can’t imagine our worlds could be darker.
I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, but there were moments lying in bed at night, when I thought things couldn’t be worse. I was a newlywed, my son was being deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months, and I had breast cancer.
Then I met a woman in England whose name I never knew. On the very same day as I had my mastectomy, her husband of 30 years killed himself. Six months later, she was still wondering why.
In the grand scheme of things, my plate was not only full, it was full of blessings. I had a wonderful, supportive, loving husband. Both of my sons are fabulous young men who have done their country and their family proud. And my breast cancer? Gave me such a richer view of life, like learning that blessings really do count.
So what makes a woman “beautiful?”
It is the crinkle at the corner of her laughing mouth. It is the warmth of her loving hand. It is the light in her eyes when she’s passionate about something. It is the love she has for others.
It has nothing to do with hair or breasts. It has everything to do with what’s inside.
“Do by self!” My then 3-year old niece used to spout that phrase constantly. She was a big girl and wanted to prove it. Grown up girls feel the same, greatly augmented when we become patients. We don’t want to admit that our disease is gonna limit us.
I realized mid-treatment, however, that helping me actually helped my loved ones. They couldn’t take my breast cancer away, they couldn’t undergo my chemo. But they could do other things to make my journey lighter. It made them feel better. And as one who forever worries that others are having a good time, that in turn made me feel better.
Most importantly, it made me feel I wasn’t in the fight alone. Isn’t there a saying like, “When the going gets tough, find someone to go with you.” Lots of helping hands traveled mine with me.