Since 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, “itâ€™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.
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…