Happy Dancin’ in Technicolor

I don’t know if it’s age or what, but I’m blown away by just how many people live their lives miserably because they’re living in black and white. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classic movies in black and white, but life is to be lived and seen as Dorothy did when she opened the door in Oz… Absolute Technicolor!

Not sure where people went wrong, but many are walking around skulking and grumbling; instead of kicking up their heels and experiencing it. Some, I think, watch far too much news and see only the negative in the world. Others, I have to wonder, just enjoy the negative… Myself??? I’m sitting here giggling over the possibility of jazz festivals and wine tastings. What makes us different because I, too am a grown up, but I love life and live it.

Some say it’s because I’ve lived through cancer (others say it’s a midlife thingy, but what do they know???), but I’m thinking that it’s just a matter of seeing life differently. We all know that the world has its bad, but some of us make a point to create good, create magic. That makes a HUGE difference!

We could leave this world at any given moment, so wasting time on complaining and being sour is or should be criminal. Don’t wait on a cancer diagnosis, divorce, or some other crisis to be what it takes to open your eyes. Life is a ride and vivid with color, don’t allow your life to slip by without noticing. If your complaint is that the world is full of bad news, then you’re just looking in the wrong places because there are sites out there full of “good news.” All you need to do is look for them.

And a piece of advice… Do the “Happy Dance.” You can’t be in a bad mood when doing the “Peanut’s Dance.” You think I’m kidding??? No way. I do it all the time and don’t care where I am. Did you know that doing it in the grocery store will always cause another person to do it and smiles every where? My challenge to you is to be brave and just do it. I’d do it with you. Just do it, you know you want to.

If you want to be happy, be.  ~Leo Tolstoy

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Perception vs. Reality

One of the funniest things I find about when I tell someone that I’m a cancer survivor is when they tell me how incredible I am for beating it… Clearly they didn’t know me then.

I went kicking and screaming through treatment, surgery, and recovery (at some points, quite literally). There are all the levels of grief you go through during the process, but I set up housekeeping in “blind rage” and stayed there for at least a year afterwards (think rabid pit bull).

I was lucky, not skilled… Having a great support team, an amazing surgeon that looked like Doogie Houser, and just plain dumb luck (considering how long I knew about the mass behind my knee, damn lucky is a better way of putting it).

When you see someone going through treatment, understand that they are just everyday people that are going through a life changing experience that they sure as heck didn’t ask for. I certainly was no super hero (I am now, you should see my cape), but somehow got through it all. Don’t assume they have it together, even if that is how they are acting. Survivors need friends and support, even if it’s just a hand to occasionally hold.

Be that friend.

Creating a Care Package for a Friend with Cancer

Putting together a care package for a friend with cancer will be one of the most wonderful gifts you can give. I’m speaking from experience and every little gift and card keeps your spirit going (I have each and every card and item seven years later). It doesn’t have to be elaborate because it’s the thought that counts, anyhow and it blesses regardless.

Here are some fun ideas, followed by a list of special items that help cancer survivors through their treatment.

1.       Lemon Drops—Helps settle stomach and with dry mouth… Just plain yummy.

2.       Mint Tea—Soothing and assists with digestion.

3.       Aquaphor—This is a must for those going through radiation. Helps with burn and the extremely dry skin.

4.       Silky Soft Scarf/Hat—Nice for those dealing with hair loss, especially when it’s cold.

5.       Stuffed Animal—Just something fun that ends up meaning a lot. Took mine with me for each surgery.

6.       Card—There are a number of nice cancer support cards available these days (Have seen them at both Hallmark and Walmart).

7.       Chocolate—Need I say more? Be careful if individual is having chemo, but if not, should be good to go!

8.       Puzzle Books—Something to do during treatment/recovery.

9.       Inspirational Books—There are a number of wonderful books on the subject matter. A personal favorite is Chicken Soup for the Survivor’s Soul.

10.   Trashy Novels—This is a matter of personal taste and could as easily be mysteries or whatever the individual prefers.

11.   CDs—Feel good music and or something soothing to help rest when needed.

These are just a few ideas, but put them in a nice little basket or gift bag and I guarantee you’ll have a winner.

Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.  ~Christopher Reeve

Chaotic Logic or Let’s Live?

Let me to clarify that this is only my opinion and clearly not everyone else’s, but I’m sure that cancer has the same affect on other survivors as well. Logically, we all know that our cancer can come back at any given time and for the first few years after NED (No Evidence of Disease) we walk on eggshells with every set of scans, but as the years go by we breathe easier.

By year five we’re getting pretty comfortable in our survivorship and with every year after that, even more comfy in it. Some of us actually start getting a bit complacent and a tad lazy in the promises that we made to ourselves when the bombshell was originally dropped.

Then one day, one of us are struck by it again… And the bottom falls out of our lives. Not only do they recur, but they lose the battle and in our mind (okay, my mind) that isn’t possible. How can this be??? We win, we don’t lose! Who can we call about this, because this is simply not acceptable? I want to know NOW! I want to talk to whoever is in charge because this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be!

Now, I’m not stupid (naïve, yes, but not stupid) and I know that my cancer can come back, but I choose not to live my life that way (I’ve got the whole denial thingy down to a science). The thing is that I forgot the promise I made to myself to LIVE. Once again, swept away by life and everything that “seems” important at the moment, instead of what really is important to living a full life.

Someone mentioned that now I know how they felt when they lost their best friend and I’d agree with that if it wasn’t for the other emotions in play here… Blind rage because we are survivors and we have ALREADY won this battle and sheer terror because we know that no matter how many times we tell ourselves that we’re good to go, it CAN come back.

Life is meant to be lived and DOING what matters is WHAT MATTERS. Tomorrow never comes and sitting on our thumbs waiting until tomorrow to make our dreams happen, doesn’t work. Now is all there is, there’s no guarantee that tomorrow will be there. Have I covered every possible cliché on the subject???

I lost my best friend a couple weeks ago and honestly NEVER saw it coming. Should have, but didn’t and now a dream was missed, but there was a promise made and THAT PROMISE will happen!

We need to stop allowing procrastination control our lives. It’s time to move full speed ahead… Anything is possible IF we keep moving forward. We can change the world if we remember to stop putting living on hold for life. Let’s live!

We can find a cure to this horrible disease and stop these losses, if we as survivors don’t stop living and don’t forget that WE ARE SURVIVORS!

Photo courtesy of http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

Pardon???

Now tell me, if someone told you that you had Liposarcoma… Wouldn’t you be scratching your head, wondering what the heck they were talking about? I KNOW, ME TOO! Shoot, it sounds more like something that you pay to have done, than something that you get diagnosed with! Throw in the fact that I was diagnosed on Friday the 13th and you have the makings of some twisted joke.  Yep, that’s my life!

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a pleasant period of my life, but looking back I see the humor (I’m really sick and twisted that way). From the argument with the Operating Room nurse that included the whole head bobbing thing that I mock others for doing, to walking around with the ability to make water spray from my leg and actually saying that “I’m fine.” Yeah, I was an idiot, but a cute and entertaining one!

So when life seems bleak and without a boatload of hope, remember you can go further than you believe and when you look back, there will be moments that will make you smile.  If I can do it, anyone can.

“Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.”  ~Author Unknown