It has been just over 6 weeks since I was diagnosed with cancer. Four of which were spent in a hospital bed. Two of which have been spent adjusting to my new life back at home.
I’ve had a lot of time to mull things over. Perhaps not the kind of things you’d expect me to think about. More like “I hope I’m not too sick to continue baking through my recipe bookmarks.” Or, “I’m really pissed I can’t go to any of the concerts I bought tickets for this summer.” Or how about “I’m super pissed I can’t go to the Healthy Living Summit.”
But most of all, I think about what I once deemed my “healthy lifestyle.”
I ate my fruit and vegetable servings every day. I exercised almost every day. I did lots of yoga. I meditated (sometimes). I laughed (a lot). I got fresh air walking and running, I slept my eight hours a night. I haven’t touched a cigarette since 2005 and I drink maybe once a month. Maybe.
According to Dr. Oz, I was doing everything right. And I still. got. cancer. At 25 years of age no less.
Enter: existential crisis.
I still have the same core values when it comes to healthy living. In other words, I still believe it’s all about balancing out the important stuff with the fun stuff. But I no longer believe that the healthy stuff is a cure-all. It is one thing to eat and live a certain way to say, deal with gastrointestinal issues. It is another thing to force yourself to live a certain way, when really all you want to do is LIVE.
I don’t actually think about my mortality a lot since my cancer diagnosis. But I will tell you that when mortality gets involved, a person’s idea of healthy living is bound to change.
In essence, I just have a greater desire to do things for ME. So yes, that’s changing to a mostly organic diet to keep the chemicals out, a choice made for me, by me. But you know what? I still eat toast and butter for dinner when the chemotherapy makes me gag at the mere mention of a “dark leafy green.”
These days, being happy, keeping my sanity, and finding joy in the small things are way, way more important than stressing about the things that may or may not prevent me from getting cancer. Or I guess, make my cancer worse. Yes, I am way more aware and prudent of it all, but in the end… How much does it really matter? What have I done differently than a person who lives to be 92 and disease free?
I will still try my best to eat my veggies and exercise, because that’s just who I am. But I now know that obsessing over it is fruitless. What I do know is that I want to spend my days feeling engaged and enjoying every hour lived. Not slaving over some notion of what I “should” be doing. I just want to be stress free.
At my cottage last weekend, my Aunt bought a big ole’ chocolate cake slathered in the most delightful boiled icing that has ever touched my lips. My uncle passed away a few months ago of brain cancer. Losing him was a tough blow to my family, and getting my cancer diagnosis weeks after his funeral was another big blow.
Instead of wallowing over how cancer has affected my family, we instead sliced into this divinely delicious cake as a symbol of celebration. Yes, we have lost a lot, but we still have a lot more. Manymany things to celebrate. We sat there for almost 10 minutes clinking our glasses together with cheers of things to be grateful for. Then dug into the super-sugary dessert. Not healthy in the least, but a moment in time that gave me more emotionally and spiritually than I think a green smoothie ever could.
Did I mention the boiled icing?? It tasted like marshmallow fluff! The stuff my sweet fluffy dreams are made of.
I am off to my cottage again this weekend – or my “Sanctuary of Healing” as my sister calls it. I’ve been feeling pretty blah from my last chemo treatment, so the fresh salty air will be very welcome.
Now go enjoy your weekend!!