A few months back, my mother stood in front of many to tell our story. She was speaking to a group of local francophone women to help explain why she brought Look Good Feel Better to our home town, Timmins, Ontario. She spoke both of the program and of her experience as a caregiver to her daughter - me.
She spoke of our favourite memory.
Being unable to attend the evening myself, I read her speech sitting in my apartment one evening. As I read her words, I was transported to moments during my active cancer treatment days. She told the story about the first time I felt wind in my hair after having lost it in treatment.
It was a fall morning, around 7 am, and I was intent on going shopping before my chemotherapy treatment. It was a chilly Black Friday. A store was announcing discounted ugly Christmas sweaters – one of which I was determined to wear on my last day of chemotherapy.
Upon getting out of the car, my mother explains being perplexed by my excitement. I was pointing to my head while wearing the biggest smile.
"Look Maman! Look!"
I was showing her, with great excitement, that my hair was moving with the wind. She told of the expression of immense pride she saw on my face in regard to my hair being long enough to move with the chilly breeze. I also remember this immense sense of happiness I felt.
At this point in my mother’s speech, she addressed the crowd to explain that this moment reminded her that we must appreciate the little things in our lives - moments we normally take for granted. In that moment, the wind in her daughter’s hair proved to be a precious gift of joy.
I too remember that in that moment of pure bliss, I was utterly present. For that, I experienced joy as nothing before.
I had spent months prior to this joyous moment feeling negative about my no-hair situation. I loved having no hair, truly! Yet losing my hair had been, needless to say, frustrating and “unfair.” Then following this joyous moment, I returned to feeling negatively and complaining throughout the regrowth process I went through.
Hearing my mother retell this moment and reading her perspective on the same memory has made me wonder... how much easier would that process have been if I had been able to appreciate the little joys - more of these all-present moments? Of course, there are other times throughout the hair regrowth process that I remember as milestones:
My first time noticing hair in my face.
My first time braiding my hair.
My first time making a “Pebbles Flintstone” ponytail.
My first time getting a haircut.
However, none of these memories equaled that first time I felt the wind in my hair.
I believe the key aspect that makes this memory such a fond one is the fact that I was all-present. Having come to this realization, I have since turned to these methods to work at ‘appreciating the little things’ and being completely present in hopes of reproducing this feeling of immense joy:
Meditation is a great tool to help you learn mindfulness and to be in the moment. I have been increasing my meditation practice to see the benefits in my everyday life. I have found myself in more moments such as the one my mother and I love.
Reduced distractions can ease the process of being present and happy with a moment in time. I will be the first to admit that oftentimes, I am responding to texts or listening to music or finishing a blog post while I am out and about. Putting all that away, I have found, let’s me enjoy the little moments of joy much more.
Gratitude is an old practice of mine. I have been tracking what I am grateful for for many years now. This has helped me to cultivate a practice and build a lifestyle around such incredible moments.
Ultimately, I remind myself to just be.
Soar Above Cancer