Celebrating World Cancer Day

Feb 5, 2024

With Love and Acknowledgment

For those who have lost the battle, those who are continuing the battle, those that are LIVING and those that have been left behind. I honor you.  I am a person left behind after my dad and my mom passed away from cancer. Here are a few things I learned along the journey.

Be your Own Advocate

Remember the very best doctors out there only know as much as they know. YOU are the only expert on YOUR body. If you need something different than is being offered, ASK. Do your own research, get second, third, fourth opinions.

I had to ask three different doctors to get approval for a screening mammogram at age 35 instead of 40.  My mom insisted on a double mastectomy even though only one breast revealed cancer, only to find cancerous cells in the healthy breast after surgery.  She did have to go back into surgery to remove lymph nodes on the healthy side, but it saved her another much more invasive surgery.

YOU get to make the decision that is best for YOU. Period.

Get your Screenings and Do your Self-Exams

Both of my parents were diagnosed symptom free. My mom had her annual routine mammogram which came back clear and within that year felt a lump during a self-breast exam. A biopsy revealed cancer.  My dad had his annual blood work done and came back “slightly” anemic. His doctor was thorough and thankfully decided to explore deeper. Several tests later and still symptom free revealed kidney cancer.

FEEL all the Emotions Openly and Freely

The cancer journey affects everyone involved in one way or the other. Patients, caregivers, family, friends, children. It is an emotional roller coaster and full of high highs and low lows. There is fear, strength, worry, grief and joy all at once. It is exhausting. Riding the wave of emotion and FEELING it all, allowing emotions to process through and sharing your emotions with others will help to lighted the load. If you have support, let them hold some of the weight. If you are going it alone, get those emotions out and then rest my friend.

ENJOY the Little Things

When I reflect back on the years, I spent with both my mom and dad during their cancer journeys it’s the sweet little moments that I cherish. The little things, the small delights. When we were scared of the end of life and trying our best to not have to say goodbye those little things mattered so much.My last coffee date with my dad at the local coffee shop, I can still taste the coffee I had. Watching America’s Funniest home videos with my daughter and my mom cuddled up in her bed and laughing so hard, I still watch old episodes of that show.

Visiting a new bakery. Strolling an antique store. Cooking together. Balancing the check book…it’s something that was important to my dad and we did together at the end. Watching the sunset or sunrise. Sitting on the porch watching the lake.
The little things matter to me now in my day-to-day life. I make it a point to practice gratitude, find delight and giggle about something every single day.

LAUGH

Oh, my goodness even when you really just want to scream, and cry do that and then LAUGH. It truly is the best medicine, and you will never regret it. Laughter regulates the nervous system and releases endorphins the “feel good” hormones. So go ahead just LAUGH, even if it’s just for a second.  Trust me you will feel better and every little bit of feeling better matters!

Take Good Care of Yourself

Treat yourself like you would a loved one, a beloved pet or plant. Ge kind and gentle. Feed yourself. Water yourself. Take yourself on a walk outside. Give yourself a bath or hot shower. Wrap up in a cozy blanket. Watch your favorite movie. Tuck yourself in for a good rest. Again, be kind and gentle.

Let Them

When someone offers to feed you, let them. When someone wants to visit, let them. When someone sends you flowers or drops off a gift, let them. When someone wants to hold your hand, let them. When someone wraps you in a hug, let them, even if you ruin their shirt with your mascara and tears. When someone calls to check in, let them. When someone offers anything to help, let them. When someone loves you, let them.

For more resources visit Worldcancerday.org

A Beautiful book I read during my journey with loved ones, I highly recommend.

Until next time friends. I cherish you and I am celebrating you.

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