I have been dealing with a spread of my cancer, and the myriad of tests that go with that. My last round of tests showed that one new area was stable, and one had shrunk. This is all good news. I should be elated, and try very hard to summon feelings of relief and victory. For me, having an illness that will never be cured, but will hopefully be managed, keeps me so very aware of the fact that I will always deal with this, always have those dark thoughts that project into the future, and what could happen.
I recently lost my brother Bill to Glioblastoma, so this will be the first holiday season without him. I think those emotions collide with my fears about my own cancer, and create a sort of perfect storm of anxiety. When this happens, I turn to my family and friends, to remind me of how very lucky I am, and to show me all that I am truly blessed to have.
I try to be in tune with everything and everyone around me, things I may normally take for granted. If I focus in on each person, event, or thing, staying fully in the moment, I feel a tremendous sense of gratitude welling up in me. Be it a walk on the beach, a beautiful sea shell, doing errands with my husband Ken, taking a drive together to see holiday lights, noticing a squirrel eating seeds out of our pumpkin, lunch with friends, having one of our furbabies asleep on my lap, enjoying a really rich dessert, and so much more. All these things, when I look at them through thankful eyes, become treasures that completely push away my uneasy thoughts about my losses, and my illness, reminding me of how lucky I am.
I also hold onto the fact that my brother, along with my sister Maggie, my Mom, and my Dad, want happiness for me, and I can best honor them by seeking and sharing that happiness. Because my sister Maggie also died of cancer, I tend to have times of anger and rage. These same strategies of looking with eyes of gratitude, help me with this struggle as well. Knowing the peace and love my family wants me to have and to give, helps tremendously.
Having a chronic, serious illness, and losing loved ones to cancer, brings with them many challenges for the patient/family member. Knowing that we are not alone with these emotions helps me to feel much less isolated, and truly connected to people who understand. There is power in unity, and in the very world around you. Cherish each and every moment. They are filled with things to be joyous about.
‘Til Next Time,