There I said it.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of seventeen, I could have easily given up and just seen the bad in the world.
What good was to come to a seventeen-year-old with cancer?
I could have dwelled and always wondered, “Why me?”
But where would that have gotten me? Nowhere. What would I have accomplished? Nothing.
Instead, I took a different approach. I decided I was going to live as much of an optimistic life as I possibly could…. whatever that meant. Not to say I had my head in the clouds filled with rainbows and butterflies the whole time. Of course, I had bad days. Crappy days to boot, just like the next person. I just knew that even though I was put through this trying time, I had to make the most of it for my own well-being. I tried to find the good in a horrible situation and make it my own.
These are some of the things I did to help me get through some of those dark and challenging times to make myself feel good about ME:
I dressed to impress: Myself!
On days when I would wake up but I felt too tired or too achy to even want to move, I made myself get out of bed, get washed and dressed, and put on clothes that made me feel good about myself. Even if it was my favourite t-shirt dress just to feel comfy. If I was up for it, I’d even put on a little makeup. That little boost of confidence made a difference in how I would feel for the rest of the day.
A breath of positivity each morning
Every morning I would start my day with one positive thought. Even the smallest of things made a difference. If it was looking out the window and appreciating the sunshine for just a minute and feeling the warmth on my face or noticing those first sprouts of hair growth on my head; these things that seem so small, would bring a light into my day. They gave me hope. They allowed me to be in control of my emotions and how I was feeling in that moment and for the day to come.
I cut myself a lot of slack
I allowed myself to feel every emotion I was feeling and didn’t try to fight it. On days when I knew that it was going to be a down day, I let it be because after however long it lasted, I then picked myself up again and thought of ways that I could then use my time productively. If that was going for coffee with friends or simply reading a book - I just rode the waves and went with the flow. It would have been a lot more difficult to have fought it because think about it, is it really that wise to run away from a wave? Nope, because it’ll creep up behind you and knock you right down a lot harder than you had anticipated.
I remembered not to lose myself
Going through cancer is challenging in the sense that you feel that you lose yourself. Doing things that my “old self” would do, allowed me to appreciate the person I was becoming and what changes that came with it. If that was watching a movie I used to enjoy or learning a new hobby, which in my case is now cooking, I knew that these things that may seem small to others, actually defined me as ME.
Cancer itself sucks. But the experience we have doesn’t have to. Like everything else, it’s what we make of it.
If I chose to dwell and feel sorry for myself, everyone else around me would too. Nevertheless, I chose to smile. I chose to enjoy each day as they came. I chose to accept my feelings/emotions as they came because I am only human. I chose to grow.