You have probably heard of the song “Hard Habit to Break”, in the case of what happened to me, having had Cancer was a “Hard Lesson to Take”. I am into my third “new normal” year having had survived Breast Cancer Stage 2A three years ago. Why new normal? You see I felt like I died then got resurrected literally, from the moment I was diagnosed till the time I survived chemotherapy was a whole new world that felt like being wildly warped into unfamiliar grounds. It helped a bit that I knew what I was getting into as a doctor but I detached from my profession when I turned into a patient, it was something I had to surrender to those who took care of me. I have to admit that I never considered Cancer as a blessing but I would like to acknowledge the lessons it has taught me which I consider the blessings that seemed to be camouflaged. And so here goes…
Take each day one at a time. When I was diagnosed after mammography I wanted to rush immediately to the finish line, proceed to a Radical Mastectomy then chemotherapy, until my doctors made me realize or rather reminded me that there are some things in life that cannot be rushed, a process must be done. Life, as is, even with goals set up cannot be in fast forward mode, that is where we all learn.
Simple things matter. Before my diagnosis I seem to have taken a lot of things for granted- waking up, seeing the sun rise and set, or even the fact that the coffee I drank just had enough sugar. It taught me to look beyond the things I see in front of me, to look beyond and not be quick to judge and that in itself gave life more meaning as it happens daily and had set my perspective, I would say a more balanced one.
Take it easy on yourself. Having had to leave my clinical practice when I was undergoing chemotherapy was not easy, Impatience got the better half of me, I missed seeing and being with my patients but then time out – who will take care of them if I do not get better myself. After all, health is wealth. You work to live and not live to work.
Enjoy life on your own terms. You only live once- yes that is the acronym of YOLO. Take every opportunity you can to seize the day and yes even every moment. End point of it all is to live a life with no regrets in the end. Eliminate the I-could-have’s and I-should-have’s.
Being strong is an understatement. Overcoming fear is what matters, there is much truth in the saying that you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. I had to muster every ounce of courage to overcome the fear that was so real I had when I was being wheeled into the operating room and having to wait for my turn to be placed under the knife, but hey, I made it with flying colors!
Surround yourself with people who are positive enough to lift you up and do not allow anyone to ruin that bit of sunshine in you. Choose your battles wisely, not all conflicts are worth giving attention to, but they are all meant to teach you snippets of life lessons which we all need.
Lastly, behind every battle is a purpose. The answers to the questions we have may not always be there at the onset but trust in the process of its meaning being unfolded to us each day. I am grateful for having had the chance to share these lessons with you today, until my next entry. Cheers!