Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and I’m ready to send 2016 packing with a cherry on top. It’s been one heck of a crazy year. I’ve been thinking a lot these past couple months about what to write next or if I even should keep writing. Am I dwelling? Is this still a positive thing for me to do? Am I self-indulgent to continue or am I providing value for people? And lastly, because I actually do like to write, should I just start writing about other stuff as well? Maybe a lifestyle blog although that may be a little strange because of the hautecancer thing. The cancer word is a bit limiting. Anyway…I haven’t really come up with any answers so decided I would just wrap this thing up with a little tough love for cancer patients, sprinkled with a few highlights of of lessons learned this past year. Please enjoy.
First, a little rant. I’m not sure what the origin of the term cancer victim is and it really doesn’t matter, BUT…I’ve just gotta say, I hate hate hate the word victim. Always have. It’s weak, emotionally crippling and either annoys people or worse, evokes pity. Ew.
Cancer didn’t happen TO me. It just fucking happened.
A diagnosis is not a choice. You either glow or you don’t. Sorry – no matter how much of a badass you may be, you don’t get to Rambo your way out of a radiology result. Everything subsequent to your diagnosis, though, is an entirely different story. The path you take is paved with choices, each with the potential to influence and empower your mind, body and spirit. So yay for that.
For me, the first decision I made was to believe the words of the amazing nurse who was in the room with me when the radiologist told me the news. She looked me square in the eye and told me, in that stern but comforting nurse voice, that I needed to believe that cancer is NOT a death sentence. It made sense and it felt good so I went with it – clung to it even. It helped a lot those first few weeks and I’ve passed it on to others, attempting to be stern but comforting as well. Thank you, amazing nurse.
I then chose who to tell. I called my sister and my mom. I asked my sister to tell the family my news and instructed her to make sure they knew I was in no mood for meltdowns so no one was to call me if they were going to cry. I asked my mom to be my researcher because she’s good at that stuff. I decided to tell my best work friend because he is very calm and comforting and knows a lot of people. I needed him to help me navigate through the logistics and he did a stellar job of it. Thank you mom, sister and work friend. I love you all and appreciate you more than words can express.
My next series of choices involved care and treatment. I made a few important decisions in this area. I decided to get two opinions from two of the best cancer treatment facilities around. I decided to have a bilateral (both of ’em) mastectomy even though I only had one cancerous breast. I decided to drastically change my diet because I wanted to be as healthy as possible and avoid chemotherapy if it ended up being a “marginal” recommendation. I threw away all the crap in my kitchen that was refined, processed, GMO poisoned or otherwise bad for me. I stopped using plastic storage containers and plastic wrap. I chose RSO and Turkey Tail supplements. Talk about empowering. Thank you, natural healing bloggers.
I chose not to be a victim, to skip the pity party and show up for the rager instead. I chose to find beauty in moments and joy in everything I could. I slowed down and practiced gratitude and mindfulness. I listened more. I loved harder. I smiled when I felt happy. I felt powerful and positive and sincere. I knew that I might die and it made me feel profound appreciation for life. I began a practice of thanking the universe when my feet first hit the floor each morning. I would just say thank you, world – I’m here. Thank you, Jewish prayer ritual that someone told me about.
I chose not to battle cancer but to, instead, adopt a philosophy of working through it – engaging my mind-body-spirit energy with positive thinking, healthy eating and exercise and eliminating negative people and toxic junk from my world. Most of it anyway. It’s a work in progress…
I chose to share my story. First to family, then to friends and then publicly, as I’m doing now. I chose to talk about the emerging lessons, rather than the blood and guts of the situation because it made me feel good. I could have chosen to focus on the associated losses – my boobs, my health, my daily workout regime, my unscarred torso, but why? Not empowering at all. I wanted to feel like I was adding value somehow by sharing my experience. I wanted people to love their lives and the beautiful world we live in and to hold their favorite people closer to their hearts.
I’m not sugarcoating cancer. It does suck to have it or care about someone who does but here’s the thing…if you take the stance that cancer has happened to you like a curse or a death sentence or a punishment, you approach it with a significant disadvantage. Why would you want to do that? Not only is it negative but it breeds even more negativity because the people in your life will take your cue and act accordingly.Then what? Negativity City, that’s what.
Back to what I said earlier. Cancer didn’t happen to me and maybe, strange as it may seem, it actually happened for me. I know I’m a stronger and happier person today that I was on May 5th, 2016. I had cancer and now I don’t. What remains matters more than anything else has ever mattered. On this eve before New Year’s Eve, on a beautiful beach in a beautiful country I am accompanied by my three favorite things. I have love. I have peace. I have gratitude.
And in lieu of a long list of resolutions, which I would probably break in a week anyway, I wish my favorite things for you, and that you may find them within and around you and that they keep you stronger than ever. Happy New Year, Beautiful Ones. Stay haute!