The importance of a positive attitude should never be underestimated, especially in the face of a difficult situation. There are always at least two ways to look at everything; it’s all about your mind-set. How the world looks through your eyes depends completely on how you choose to see it, what you choose to concentrate on and of course, what you choose to ignore. A situation is only as good or bad as you allow it to be and you alone have the power to make the decision to fight and get through it or give up and allow your circumstances to take over your life.
The problem is… it’s really not that simple. From the day I got my official diagnosis I promised myself that I would stay positive, fight with all of my strength and never, ever give up. I have tried, I continue to try and most of the time I get it right but unfortunately, some days it’s just not possible. There are days when I just can’t. I can’t force a smile, I can’t get up and go and most of all, I can’t think of all the positive things and people in my life. As time passes and this horrible disease advances through me, taking over my body bit by bit, it becomes increasingly difficult and I have less ‘good’ days. Cancer is, without a doubt, a horrible, miserable disease and I loathe every moment I have to carry this uninvited guest around with me.
That being said, there are still ‘good’ days and I am unbelievably grateful for those. They may be few and far between but they are still there and for that, I know I am blessed. The truth is, things could always be worse. No matter how bad your circumstances are at any given time, it could always be worse. Look at my situation for example. Yes, I have cancer; yes, it is progressing rapidly; yes, I am in pain and yes, it is getting worse by the day BUT it could be worse. I could have no good days, I could have no support, I could be dead. No matter how bad it seems right now, if you look at the big picture, if you consider the grand scheme of things, I actually have it pretty good. I have a roof over my head, I have more support and love than I ever imagined I could have, I have all the medical care I need and most of all, I am still alive. I try incredibly hard to remember these things when I’m having a ‘bad’ day, it may not always be possible but I have to try.
Speaking of things I have to do… I still have not made a decision with regards to a treatment. For some reason, I’m stuck on this, I can’t get down to making the decision and every time I think about it, I find myself leaning in a different direction. It’s so frustrating. I’m running out of time and this is really not something I want to get wrong. I’m really not sure why I’m being so indecisive on this; I don’t usually have a problem making decisions. I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, I have a lot of questions to ask so I’m hoping to get some direction, maybe even leave with enough to make my final decision. If not, well, I really don’t know. The pain is getting worse by the day and I need to do something about it now, the pain killers simply aren’t enough and I’m not sure how much more I can handle. In the same breath though, it could be worse. At least I have to opportunity to make this decision, so many people don’t. I am so grateful for the opportunities I have and how blessed I am to be able to decide my fate to a certain extent.
On Sunday, my husband and I spent the day at a photographic studio. The studio belongs to someone who, apart from being an absolutely outstanding person and someone we both admire and love dearly, is the without a doubt one of the most talented and amazing artists I have ever met. It was wonderful and for the first time in what feels like forever, I felt alive! We were both completely comfortable, at ease and we enjoyed every moment. I must admit though, it was a rather emotional experience. The idea was to capture all the different emotions that come hand in hand with this journey, portray the fight, the love and most importantly, leave something behind to remind not only my husband, but everyone, how happy we are and what this journey has meant. I wanted him, and everyone else, to have something to look at when I’m not around anymore. Needless to say, Jacques, this unbelievably talented artist got it all in, that and so much more. I was amazed at how long I lasted without getting tired and how much energy I had through the day. I won’t say that I didn’t feel it afterwards, I really did. I passed out in the car on the way home and woke up stiff and sore on Monday morning. It was absolutely worth it though. I will cherish that day forever. These are just two of the hundreds of shots taken, aren’t they amazing? I can’t wait to see more. I think that was just what I needed and again, even more motivation to embrace the bald.
It’s so easy to look back on the past, the ‘good old days’, to reflect on my life before cancer, to a time when things were simpler, easier and I didn’t have to deal with these things, make these decisions or get through the bad days. I often find myself getting lost in memories of times gone by, people who I’ve lost and a past that seem so much happier than the present. Although I do agree that it’s important to remember the past and think about it when the need arises but there has to be a limit. At some point I have to let go of the past and deal with the present. It’s not easy. I was given a disc of video clips from a site called nooma.com. There were a few clips on there of talks by someone called Rob Bell. I don’t know this man and have never heard him speak before but I quite enjoyed listening to him. There was a specific clip that really caught my attention. I found it so motivating and it seems so appropriate to my life at the moment. Hopefully, you will find some relevance in it too; I think it could easily apply to all of us. The clip is called TODAY and these are the parts that really stood out for me:
“Life isn’t static, is it? It ebbs and it flows, and people grow up and move away and graduate and lose their jobs and people that you love die. Some people get married and other don’t, some get divorced and some get cancer and things aren’t how they were.”
“Everything isn’t new, we aren’t who we were and things aren’t how they were. How much energy do people spend wishing things were how they were. If you need to celebrate how good it was, then celebrate; if you need to remember how great it was when they were alive, then remember that and if you need to grieve, then grieve. If you need to apologize or make amends or you need to do something to make peace with how it was, then do it but then move on. There’s a certain kind of despair that sets in when we believe that things were better back them, when we’re stuck back there, when we’re not fully present, when we’re still holding on to how things were, our arms aren’t free to embrace today.”
“We can’t change how it was and we have no guarantees about tomorrow, all we have is today. If you lie in the fantasy that you’ll get around to it tomorrow, that you’ll get around to them tomorrow, you will wake up and it will not be tomorrow, it will be yesterday and you will have missed it, you will have missed them.”
“The answer is to be so fully present here and now that you don’t miss a thing in this day. You don’t have any regrets because you were there the whole way.”
So may you accept the past for what it is, may you celebrate what needs to be celebrated and grieve what needs to be grieved and then may you receive from God a new spirit, one for her, now, today.”
Powerful words aren’t they. It really is a great clip and I would suggest that you watch it. In the meantime, these are my hopes for you today. I hope, with all my heart that you are able to take these words to heart and use them as you walk your own journey.
When I am no longer here, I hope that you will remember these words, use them and take comfort in them. In the end, let go of me. Don’t remember the pain that came with the cancer, don’t remember my pale skin or the dark rings under my eyes, don’t remember the tears you’ve see me cry or how you’ve watched me slip away. Rather, remember the happier times, the smiles, the laughs, and the music. Music importantly, remember me for what I was to you. Remember me always, but in the end, let go of me
One Day At A Time