I’ve Decided Not To Battle The Cancer

candle.thumbnail Ive Decided Not To Battle The CancerSince this drama began for us, I have been utterly amazed at the outpouring of support, gifts, cards, letters, and love that has come our way.

It is honestly overwhelming, at times. See, in our lives and in our business, we’re used to being the “givers”. We have a family that we are used to giving our time, money and support to. In our business, we are “teachers”, and we’re quite accustomed to giving a great deal of our knowledge, time, resources and energy to help others.

So when this happened, we honestly did not expect so many people, many whom we have never met, to reach out this way and provide us with much needed support and caring, just when we need it the most.

Michel and I will be eternally grateful for it. You were there for us when we needed the most to know that we were loved. And I believe it has gone a long way to helping me get through the healing much faster.


My incision has been healing very quickly, for example, and the side effects from the chemo treatments has been more manageable than I expected. I do believe this is largely because of the flow of incredibly positive energy and love that has been sent my way on a daily basis, and I wanted to express how much I appreciate all my heroes. Thank you!

And it has inspired me in many ways. You inspired me to do the Shave-​​A-​​Thon, which in turn, has inspired others. People have told me that they too have been inspired to do something special, to reach out, to give of themselves, to bring joy to another, to raise money…quite simply…to connect with other people in a way they hadn’t considered before.

It has been the ultimate Pay It Forward experience for me.

I want to share that if I could turn back time and be faced with this situation again, I would gladly experience it ten times over, just to see what a wonderful effect it has had on people around me.

Challenges like this define a person, not by what we experience, but by how we respond to that experience.

When faced with insurmountable odds, what we DO with the experience is what helps us understand who we really are on the inside.

I am so thankful for this opportunity! I never thought I would say “Thank God I got breast cancer!”, and yet, I find myself saying that these days.

A few months B.C. (Before the Cancer), I was blissfully anaware of what was about to happen. I was riding on a wave of happiness about my upcoming wedding. My business was doing better than ever. And I was also unaware of some of the difficulties going on around me. Now, I am acutely aware that I have a job to do. My life has changed, and it is up to me to make sure that change is for the better.

Part of that job is to spread awareness about breast cancer itself. B.C. I had no idea that I was at risk. I had no idea that young women who get breast cancer have a lower survival rate and that it is much more aggressive for us. I had no clue that it could spread so fast and be so difficult to spot.

And now that I know, it is my job to make sure everyone else knows it too. If I can be an example to others to check themselves more often, to go ahead and demand that annual mammogram, no matter what age group you happen to fall into, then it will be worth going through. As they say “If I can save just one life…”

Another mission I am on is to prove that none of life’s challenges can possibly get me down, and staying positive at all times is what makes this life worth living. I have a job to spread awareness about love and its amazing effect on all of us.

Along with my message about awareness, I am compelled to spread a message about turning lemons into lemon meringue pie. I truly believe that there is nothing that can happen to a person that can overwhelm or devestate them, unless they allow it. Divorce, loss of job, terminal illness, death of a loved one, nothing, nothing, nothing can possibly destroy anyone unless they allow it to.

The secret to conquering any darkness is to always stay completely focused on the light.

Bear with me here, because this may be a radically new concept.

It’s about a shift in perception, a slight difference in the way every obstacle is viewed, and I truly believe it can save my life, and the lives of those who understand and grasp the concept.

We’ve all heard about the “War on Terrorism” or the “War on Drugs”. These words are often used to describe how people are fighting something that is negative. But have you noticed anyone actually “winning the war” yet? I propose that as long as the focus is on the negative, the war will be endless, because we will be always focused on the one thing we don’t want.

As one of the commenters on this blog said so profoundly, “it’s very difficult to fight or conquer darkness. Really, the only way we *can* dispel it, is to turn on the light.”

And that makes such beautiful sense.

If you are in a dark room, it does you no good to grab a sharp knife and flail away at the darkness in a feeble attempt to “fight the dark”. The only way to make the darkness go away is to, quite simply, calmly locate the light switch and flip it to the on position. If your only method of dispelling darkess is to “fight it”, then your attempts will be useless, and you will be endlessly flailing away impotently.

Darkness can only be replaced, it cannot be fought.

And it applies to how I am dealing with my own war…my war on breast cancer.

I am not fighting breast cancer. I am replacing it with a healthy set of cells.

My daily thoughts are filled with dreams of a healthy, cancer-​​free body. I spend all my waking moments imagining that ALL my cells are healthy, vibrant, alive, active, and doing the job they are supposed to do…what they were intended to do.

Right now, we are actively working at removing the cells that went awry, through chemotherapy and radiation treatments. See, my cells forgot their job for a while, and to save the rest of my cells from being coerced into going awry as well, the errant ones must be removed from the whole.

And once they are removed, my job is to make sure all my remaining cells will always remember their own mission, and never have room for doubt about their purpose. In order to make sure the cancer never returns, I must stay focused on filling my cells with love and forgiveness, and reminding them that they have a better purpose.

And this “replacing the negative with a positive” thought process is what helps me heal every day and deal with the healing process.

It is a dramatic shift in perception.

For example:

I have not lost my hair. I have chosen to give it away to someone who needs it more than me.

I have not lost my breast. I have chosen to make room for a perkier one to be installed later.

I am not experiencing “extreme fatigue”. I am taking much needed naps and spoiling myself with more rest than I thought I deserved.

I am not surviving breast cancer. I am a woman who is living each day the way it was supposed to be lived…full of life, love, joy, special moments, and laughter.

This is not the “year I battle cancer”. This is the year I welcome a fresh new healthy body.

I do not have a terminal illness. I have been blessed with a reminder that it is important to live each day to its fullest and do what Queen Latifah did in Last Holiday when she thought she had just a few weeks to live…she did everything she’d always wanted to do, and her life became much more meaningful as a result. Before she thought she was dying, all she did was “exist”, dreaming of a time when she could finally do the things she had always dreamed of doing “one of these days”. When she thought she was dying, she finally lived.

If we could all live each day as if it could be our last, imagine what we would do with our day?

Who would we reach out to? Who would we comfort? Who would we help?

If you thought today was your last day on earth, what would you choose to do with your day?

Recently, a dear friend of mine was killed in an accident. Phil Huff was a wonderful man who, just a few days before his death, didn’t hesitate to help me spread the word about my shaveathon. When I emailed him asking him to tell his friends about the upcoming event, he didn’t stop to question whether or not he had the time to help. He immediately penned a beautiful email to send his list and he shared his thoughts about what I was going through.

He didn’t know that his death was right around the corner. How could he, or anyone else, know? And yet it was. He was tragically killed, along with his father in law, less than 4 months after his wedding. My heart goes out to his family.

Would he have done anything differently if he had known that he was about to die? Probably not. Because he lived his life to its fullest, had a wonderful new bride he was deeply in love with, was involved with helping others, and was there when people needed him the most.

He wasn’t living his life in anticipation of his death. he was living his life the way it was meant to be lived.

The fact is, we are all suffering from a terminal illness. We are all dying…eventually.

And just because I have breast cancer doesn’t mean I know how I’m going to die. A random speeding bus could hit me tomorrow. So does it make sense to live my life worrying about random buses? Absolutely not!

Nor will I live out the rest of my life worrying about my breast cancer.

I am living my life as if it could be my last day on earth, doing everything my little heart desires, loving my family and others, laughing as often as possible, and doing whatever I can to make life easier for those around me.

And although I cannot control how I am going to die, I’ll be damned if I am going to let a little thing like breast cancer ruin my day!

My day is too full of fun and laughter, thank you very much. And I have got a lot of living to do!

p.s. In an effort to spread breast cancer awareness, I have designed a variety of pink ribbon merchandise. I realize it isn’t October anymore, but would you please do your part to help spread awareness year round? Breast cancer doesn’t just happen in October, and I would be very grateful if you could help my mission by picking up a tshirt or button and wearing it whenever possible. And when someone asks you what it’s all about, and you think my story will help serve the greater good, please let them know that there is hope. If my story can help save one life…

Click here to check out the breast cancer support gear

26 Comments so far »

  1. Suni/bulletproofsoul said on:

    November 7, 2006 at 4:43 pm

    This was an amazing post. I read the title, horrified to know what you had decided…but then you tricked me !! I love your new attitude. Blogged about it on my Vox journal:
    suni​.vox​.com/​l​i​b​r​a​r​y​/​p​o​s​t​/​t​e​a​r​s​-​i​n​-​y​o​u​r​-​e​y​e​s​.​h​tml

  2. Tatiana Velitchkov said on:

    November 8, 2006 at 10:52 am

    Gee Sylvie,

    Me too, I was shocked at the title of your new post -
    only to find out how well you have expressed again all
    of your being, your wisdom, and knowledge in your
    thirst to teach others how to survive a “bad” trick
    spelled on them by faith… =)

    It is indeed pointless to fight whatever is coming at
    you, be it an illness, or something that is bothering,
    like violence and war against this and that.
    The best way is to change your perception of
    whatever is bothering you, and not fight it but
    replace it.

    This is the simple truth that the majority could grasp
    but don’t, unfortunately. And hopefully by spreading
    the word about your blog, and more people reading
    it, a new kind of awareness will spread around.

    Very deep Sylvie, and very good of you to bring it
    out this way and to keep helping others with a
    great advice!

    God Bless and may you be 100% healthy again very soon

    Warmly
    Tatiana

  3. Suzan St Maur said on:

    November 8, 2006 at 11:10 am

    Yes, you gave me a fright there too, Sylvie! I am full of admiration for your strength and determination to be positive, not negative.

    Another sensation that surprised me when I began to feel it, was the thought “OK, I have breast cancer, but I also have a life.” It’s very easy to become obsessed with your illness and forget to live.

    I believe that many women reach this stage when they are able to put the illness into a much healthier perspective, along with many other elements in their lives, as you have done.

    Like you, Sylvie, I was overwhelmed by the support and love shown to me when I was first diagnosed. Looking back now, there was another precious element to my illness; the new friends I made as a consequence of going through treatment.

    And not just passing acquaintances … they are real, true friends. Sharing that type of experience with someone sure has a way of cutting through trivialities and getting down to what really matters.

    There have been times when I have been grateful for getting breast cancer, too.

    SUZE

  4. June said on:

    November 8, 2006 at 11:41 am

    Your headline gave me a jolt also. You are truly an inspiration Sylvie. You are giving strength to all women who have been diagnosed with this dreadful disease and I am certain that you will regain your full health. I met you and Michel at WIS UK and was terribly upset when I heard the news. You and Michel were so obviously in love and it wasn’t fair that this should happen to you at what should have been a happy time in your life. You are a wonderful example for not letting it beat you. I am following your progress back to full health and wish you both the very best for the future.

    June

  5. Ladan Lashkari said on:

    November 8, 2006 at 11:44 am

    Hi Sylvie,

    Wow! Thank you very much for sharing this beautiful and deep insight about life and challenges. I just saved your post to my computer and I’m going to read it every once in a while.

    It contains a lot of inspiration. I think it’s good to remind ourselves of the points you just talked about.

    You’re a wonderful woman, Sylvie, and I’m glad that I got to know you through Michel’s newsletter.

    I wish you and Michel all the best and a lot of joy and happiness… today, tomorrow, and all the days after. :)

    Ladan

  6. abdellah said on:

    November 9, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Sylvie,

    Life, no other words can stand here else this one.

    I enjoyed reading this.

    Life and freedom.

    take care and god bless you and your family.

  7. Lil said on:

    November 9, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    This is an absolutely brillian post, Sylvie! Like the others, the title gave me a jolt but after reading every single word (and then reading it again because it touched me so) I have realized that you are so right on with this. So simple, yet so hard to see unless you must see it. I am not going through this myself as you are but your words are inspiring no matter what a person goes through. They are words to live by. My husband is the one going through the ordeal. I am the one doing the supporting and trying to figure out what one more little thing I can do to help. I have printed your post for him to read, Sylvie. That is the one more little thing I can do. You have such a gift for words and sharing and I think you are an amazing human being.
    (((hugs)))
    Lil

  8. Pam McKinnis said on:

    November 12, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Wow, great post. I really agree with your viewpoint to not fight the negative but to focus on the positives of life.

    There is a book and movement called The Way To Happiness. It is a book on common sense ways to live life better. This book has been passed out in the thousands in New York at the time of 911, at Katrina, at the Tsunami, and over the world. It focuses on how to improve life, rather than focus on the negative.

    It is very well worth reading and seeing what this small but very powerful book is actually doing.

    I have no financial interest in this book but I personally believe in it wholeheartedly.

    http://​www​.twth​.org

    Pam

  9. Liane Blanco said on:

    November 13, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    Sylvie, I have always admired and respected you, ever since the day I found the Workaholics​.com forum back in the 90s. After reading this post, I more than admire you, I love you for the inspiration you are, girl!

    I had breast cancer in 2000, the most aggressive kind and ever since, every headache, every digestive upset, every cold has been a trauma: “Omigod! A brain tumor! Colon cancer! Lung cancer!”

    NO MORE!

    You have inspired me to focus on the very positive things in my life — my work, my friends, my sometimes irritating but always entertaining family, my cherished little Beaglechild Toby.

    My vision of you is happiness and friendship for whomever you touch. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post.

    Liane

  10. Kim said on:

    November 20, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    I’ve been quietly reading your blog for a while now. The title to this one scared me. You’re an inspiration!!!! I agree that you need to focus on the positive! I’ve found myself that focusing on the negative doesn’t help at all. I just walked in the Tampa Bay 3 day this past Oct. in honor of my mother in law who is a breast cancer survivor. That walk changed my life! I’m walking it again Oct. of 2007!!!! I have a 3 day blog if you ever have time to read. :) http://​3daywalktraining​.blogspot​.com/

    Many hugs to you!!!!!

  11. Gail Greenberg said on:

    November 20, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Someone told me recently — about a much smaller matter — that I was “playing not to lose,” which is very different from playing to win. And it contains that same sense you convey of being confined in a little box of fear, constrained and unable to breathe free or live with joy. Living with joy has got to be the biggest challenge for everyone. It’s a blessing and a miracle that it’s no longer a challenge for you, Sylvie!

  12. Donna Knight said on:

    November 27, 2006 at 4:03 am

    Sylvie, you are the bravest woman in the world. I am linking to your blog because I think it is such an inspiration to women and anyone at all who focuses on the negatives and small problems in their lives. Thank you for making me see life in a much brighter light.

  13. Alice in wonderland said on:

    November 27, 2006 at 3:49 pm

    Sylvie — heard you on CBC today. Two words for you.

    Write on!

  14. Annari Jansen said on:

    November 29, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Dearest Sylvie,

    Thanks for your inspirational and positive website. I’ve been living in Saudi Arabia the past 7 years as an South African expat and was diagnosed on the 21st of October with b/​cancer. I’ve had a double mastectomy on the 30th and tarted my first chemo treatment last Monday. I’m only one year older than you with 2 boys 5 and 2 years old and really need any bit of positivity I can get at this stage. If you feel like it, please get in touch with me.

    Kind regards
    annari

  15. Maureen said on:

    December 5, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    Got me too kiddo, I almost had to reach throught the screen and kick your butt. But your words were like a holdiay gift to me. The words written by you could have be written by me 8 years ago when I was faced with my first tragedy. as I had to watch my soul mate and fiance die a horrible death. I too influenced many others through my attitude which mirrors yours.

    All I can say is fasten your seatbelt. Because if anything like my experience, you’re going to need to keep and believe in this attitude. Just when I thought I had made it through, God decided to not only test me again, but with a total of 5 major tragedies before my 45th birthday. And guess what, I’m still here, and I’m still lovin life. I may not be wealthy monetarily today, but feel rich and wealthy in many other ways. I value important things and give, help and share every chance I get.

    I really hope to meet you some day. Maybe we’ll catch a sunset and get giggly over a couple of cocktails. God Bless and Stay Strong -

  16. Tatiana said on:

    December 7, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Sylvie,

    Gosh, I love you!

    When I was reading your post, I was crying. It feels so incredible when you meet someone that see the world from the same point of view.

    Yes, talking about war doesn’t help (and Iraq has proved this point so many times…) We have witnessed so many “No War” demonstrations and ONLY couple “Yes to Peace”. I was going crazy when I was watching TV at this time.

    Universe thinks very simply: only inclusions and only nouns and adjectives. It doesn’t understand “no” or “don’t”, but it does understand EVERYTHING that comes after that.

    So, if you want life, you think LIFE and how beautiful the life is; if you want health, you think HEALTH; if you want love, you think LOVE – and thins is EXACTLY what the Universe will deliver to you to ENJOY (this is the number one reason we come here to begin with — ENJOY.)

    I am SO HAPPY that you’ve “decided to not battle the cancer”! Everything we have is created inside first. And I am really happy that you’ve deiced to create HEALTH, LIFE, and LOVE.

    All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~ Buddha

    Sylvie, my dear Sylvie – I love you. Every time you need energy boost – just plug into my streams – the y are open to you.

  17. Patricia Ritsema van Eck said on:

    December 9, 2006 at 11:47 am

    Dear Sylvie,

    I was trying to relocate you today because of something related to IM and your work-​​a-​​holics for hire. I don’t know if you remember but we met in June 2005 at the Fusion seminar in Miami. And I was shocked to discover you attracted breast cancer into your life. You have my deepest empathy — what a challenge to face!

    Then after reading through your blog I can only applaud you for your incredible courage and your positive attitude. You are so right about not wanting to fight the dis-​​ease but focusing on health instead. And living your life to the fullest.

    Michel, your children and your other family are blessed to share their lives with you!

    Sending you much love and light,
    Patricia (the Netherlands)

    P.S. What a great idea to have a list with gift ideas for people with cancer. I would love to write a bit about that and link back.

  18. Ami said on:

    December 11, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you. I am scheduled for a biopsy on Friday for a small cluster of microcalcifications. I’m 34. I know at this point I shouldn’t be freaking myself out. But I find myself looking up more and more info, learning all I can.…which in turn freaks me out more. Reading your entire blog today made me smile and relax a bit. I can’t make time fly any faster so I can find out any sooner and frankly I don’t really want time to go by any faster than it seems to be. Like you, I just found happiness, have a life I love, a teenaged daughter and well…here I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Thank you for helping me out today. I’ll continue to check in on you throughout your journey. Your strength and your attitude give me so much hope. Take care!

  19. Copywriting Services said on:

    December 15, 2006 at 11:41 am

    Hi Sylvie,

    You are confidence personified and it shows.

    This is an awe inspiring post and I came out lot more focussed on the Light.

    We love you and wish you a speedy recovery.

    Cheers,
    Edward Santosh

  20. Rainman and Natali said on:

    February 19, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Hi, Sylvie!
    At all of you should be and it will be good.

  21. Jaime said on:

    March 6, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    nice blog, i just tag in on technorati.
    feel free to visit my blog too.
    thanks.

  22. Pam said on:

    August 3, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Hi Sylvie
    I just found your website this morning and I sent you a personal message. I just wanted to say to say how inspiring I am finding the women in these forums are. I do not have breast cancer, but I was very upset when a young women in our community died after 8 years with her own personal battle with cancer late last year and I wanted to help raise awareness.

    I spoke to a number of women who had either survived their breast cancer or who were currently dealing with breast cancer as to how I might be able to help.

    My background was in document design and I had recently started a customised journal business and I asked these women if a journal for them to write their thoughts, feelings, anguish and milestones would be something that might help? The feedback was really positive so for the last 6 mths that is what I have been doing. Creating a breast cancer awareness gift to help raise awareness and also funds for two breast cancer foundations.

    I have met the most amazing women in the creation of this journal. And I have been truly humbled by their determination, strength and courage through what to me seems to be absolute hell.

    I know my contribution is only small and but if I can help raise awareness and help in any small way to make a difference to the future of all women and our children then it has all been worthwhile.

    I have created a section on my website for women to leave any tips, poems, thoughts that may help someone else who may be just starting their own personal journey.

    I watched a video clip of the 3 day walk for breast cancer and I wept. I was so moved by some of the stories yet so inspired by the friendships of complete strangers that were made over the 3 day period. That is when I realised that what I was doing was a good thing and that these women need our support and help in whatever way we can.

    Sylvie, you are amazing there is no other word to express your courage and ability to take on the challenge and beat it. And I truly believe there is a very happy and long life ahead of you.

    The feedback from the people who have received my Breast Cancer Journal called “Your Journey” has been fantastic. 4 women who have survived their own personal journey have contributed to the journal and the cover was painted by a dear friend of mine who is an artist who has lost 3 members of her family to cancer.

    If you get a chance to contribute to my site or have any suggestions on how I could further help to raise awareness for breast cancer please email me direct.

    I wish you all the strength, love and support to survive your own personal journeys and may your lives be forever filled with happiness and health. Below is a poem from my journal.

    Your Journey
    Love, laughter and inner peace
    it is all a part of the healing process.
    Find that happy place filled with memories,
    dreams and positive energy.
    Each day is precious and special,
    so focus on all the good things in your life,
    and let your mind and body heal from within.
    Live each day with passion, fulfillment
    goals, aspirations and happiness.
    Spend more time with family and friends,
    as their love, strength and support,
    will help you through the tough days.
    It’s important to focus all your energy on you,
    your health and your inner strength.
    Truly believe, stay positive, and be strong.

  23. isabella mori said on:

    April 11, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    thanks for this beautiful post. i’ve stumbled it, so that others can see it, too.

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