The Memo I Almost Missed....

I met a beautiful young girl on Friday when I went for my treatment, her name was Emily.  18 years old, her whole life ahead of her (she intends to go to medical school and be a doctor), and battling an auto-immune disease; she has been in treatment for 2 years.  We chatted for a long time, and I couldn't help but think that she has the wisdom of someone much older- I guess that having a serious illness will do that to you.  She told me the one thing that her disease has taught her is that she needs to live each day to the fullest, not sweat the small stuff, and pay attention to the things that really matter.  At 39, I typically don't have much in common with an 18 year old, but disease changes that- it's a very common thread among those of us who have battled for our lives.   I told her that she is very blessed to have learned this lesson as such a young age.  Some of us live our whole lives never understanding how important this is.  Others, get a wake up call, or a memo 1/2 way through...  (yours truly....)

I think that there were less official memo's that floated in an out of my life, prior to the one that stopped me dead in my tracks.  My excuse, they were written on post-it notes that got lost in the clutter on my desk.  Just kidding, actually, I think that my "unofficial" was the pain in my lymph nodes back in May.  The pain that I wrote off as a pulled muscle... now that I think about it, when have you ever heard of someone pulling a muscle in their armpit- and if you have, how the heck did they do that?  What in God's name was I smoking?  The point here being, I  missed it.  I wrote the pain in my armpit, along with every other symptom that something wasn't quite right, OFF!

The memo that actually got my attention: a 9CM tumor, with some lymph nodes (both left and right) thrown in for some good measure, that was definitely breast cancer.  The message in the memo that I more than likely would have missed,  if it were not for that tumor, the one I almost didn't get: tomorrow is not guaranteed.  Every day is precious, and every day needs to be lived to the fullest.  We need to get everything possible out of every day!  There are things that matter: things that are really important, and things that don't matter and aren't that important. We have to challenge ourselves, and live our lives to our fullest potential every day- not just on the days when we feel like it, or on the days when we've got nothing better to do.  If we don't, we're going to wake up one day, and realize that we've wasted our lives away.   I'm more focused now on the blessings around me than I've ever been.  Maybe it's the cancer, or maybe it's the fact that I have been forced to slow down and I actually have the time to take notice of all of the beauty around me.  Seems like it's a combination of both.  But, I also want to notice which makes a huge difference- it's important to me!

The irony of all of this is that I was so busy doing everything other than taking care of myself, that I almost missed the one thing that could have killed me.  I was working 6 days a week, taking care of a house and yard, 2 dogs,  myself and my husband.  I was holding myself to some pretty ridiculous standards, like never having more than 1 load of laundry sitting around, running the vacuum every other day, and worrying about the weeds in the garden almost to the point where I couldn't sleep at night.   I didn't have time to go to the doctor- and when I did have the time, the doctor couldn't see me.  So, I put it off longer than I should have.   The lump in my breast that was growing almost daily, should have been a priority, it should have been more important to me than anything else, but it wasn't!  I should not have ignored the intense exhaustion or the fact that no matter what, I just never felt rested, I should have listened to my body!

I'm not sure how I got so derailed.  I'm really  not.  I thought I was a person that had a balanced set of priorities and values, and I did at one point.  I guess that somewhere along the way, I stopped taking care of myself and lost all of my priorities.  How can I expect to take care of someone else, or anything else, if I'm not taking care of myself?   Look at how being sick has affected every other area of my life.  As I near the end of my cancer treatments, it is definitely time to re-plan, re-prioritize, and definitely regroup... And I need to learn that it's okay to breath.  There are plenty of successful people in the world that lead well balanced lives... and I fully intend to be one of them.  After all, who would expect anything less from SuperWoman?

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