Last month was my cancerversary and for the first time in 9 years I actually forgot. Well, I forgot that it was my cancerversary, not that I’d ever had cancer.
Bad memory aside, I’m taking my oversight as a kind of win now that I’ve put enough time between me and my diagnoses (plural) to have the luxury of forgetting the day even if I can’t forget the whole experience.
I still remember sitting in isolation in hospital (I like to think of that as my Covid prep) on my keyboard banging out the beginnings of this blog. The cancerversary and the blogaversary are inextricably linked – the blog is like the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down!
I still like to mark the day I said goodbye to my thyroid. It’s kind of tradition and a little nod to the origins of the blog. A few years ago, I wrote an open letter to my thyroid, then there was the reverse bucket list. and one year I shared some of my words to live by.
So without wanting to sound like a set of inspirational quote cards, this year I wanted to share the life lessons I’ve learned over the last nine years. I like to think I’ve been studying hard!
Live in the moment
Life can be tricky and unpredictable. As much as I’d like to, I can’t predict the future so rather than worrying about what’s going to happen next, I like to get stuck into what’s happening now. Living for the day – even the gloriously ordinary ones – is my superpower.
Sit with Discomfort
Whether it be a cancer diagnosis, a pandemic or something else entirely, life keeps those curveballs coming and they can really knock us for six.
These situations are way out of my (and often even other people’s) control and there really is nothing to do except accept the situation. I’m still working on this but I’ve found acknowledging the discomfort is quite therapeutic, it’s OK to know that it’s not OK.
Control What You Can
We can’t control life’s curveballs but we can control how we respond to them.
Finding yourself in a situation that you have no control over is really challenging – 2020 has definitely taught us all that – but I’ve found that responding to these situations in a pro-active and positive way helps feel like I can claim some of that power back.
Two cancer diagnoses has left me with a bit of planxiety – I think I just made up a word and it means an anxiety about making long term plans.
That’s not to say I don’t embrace the joy and anticipation of something to look forward to but long term plans make me feel rather twitchy because I know that life can change in 20 seconds flat.
Although I approach long term plans with a fair degree of caution, I throw caution to the wind when it comes to being spontaneous and short term arrangements. A weekend away? I’m there. Dinner with friends? Let’s do it. A day at the beach? Why not? As a lifelong planner, I’ve really learned to embrace being spontaneous and the freedom that comes with it.
Take Charge of Your Healthcare
I’m sure that those two cancer diagnoses leaves have left me with a mild case of hypochondria although I’m not entirely sorry about it. Our health is so precious and it’s so important to engage in your healthcare and be your best advocate.
So if you think something ain’t right, go and get it checked out. Because you’re worth it. There are lots of things in life that can be delayed but health checks aren’t one of them.
Ask for Help
Life is quite the rollercoaster and sometimes you need someone to accompany you while you ride it. Whether you choose your friends or family or a healthcare professional, it’s so important to ask for help and ensure you receive it. Asking for help is a strength not a weakness.
Flex Your No Muscle
I’ve become really good at saying no because it means I can say yes to the people and things that matter most.
Find the Flip Side
There is always a flip side even if sometimes you have to look a bit harder to find it. I definitely enjoyed lots of cancer perks and this blog is definitely my favourite one. This little corner of the internet has provided hope and comfort for others facing a similar diagnosis and it’s allowed me to connect with people who I now call my friends. I’m very grateful for the friends in my computer.
Learned any life lessons recently?