I was thinking about my project. One year in the life of a cancer survivor. I thought about last fall when it started, and how I had a plan for my project and a general outline of where I wanted it to go. And, wouldn’t you know it, life didn’t exactly go as expected. As a mother, I faced some things that I never pictured having to face this year. My positive attitude was definitely shaken, and replaced with feelings of worry and concern. I dropped everything to attend to my child and his well-being. As my son healed, I was filled with overwhelming feelings of deep thankfulness that I had never experienced before although they were accompanied by something new. Like a thick blanket, a new layer of apprehension settled into the already vigilant person that I try to be. I attempted to locate my positive attitude again, however, it was harder than it seemed. It was still there, but it was having a hard time being front and center.
As this year moved on, I felt like I was being assaulted by the sadness of so many hardships coming from so many directions. Cancer. Cancer seemed to be the center of this phase, and it seemed to show its face in new and increasingly awful ways. Watching people face cancer in a variety of stages — from people facing brand new battles with cancer, others facing recurrences, to another friend with a new set of wildly aggressive secondary cancers — cancers which ultimately took her life. I felt like I was back in the ring again. I was reeling backward, feeling blow after blow that my friends and family were taking. I could feel my heart breaking, and I was having a hard time not transferring that worry straight onto my own shoulders, and ultimately that is what was happening.
Yet, in the most unexpected way, I had an a-ha moment. I had another friend facing cancer. Not any cancer. My same cancer. She may even be reading this right now. She wrote to me. I wrote her back. I told her that, of course, cancer sucks, but then I launched into the positive. My bright side. It was talking. And the thing was, I really meant all of it. I wasn’t faking it to make her feel better — that just isn’t my style. I was telling her how she would be okay, because she will be okay, and I told her every positive thing that I knew would be happening once her treatment was done. I was thinking of her future — her bright and sunny future — and it hit me. My a-ha moment. Although I believe all of these positive things to be true, somewhere during the course of this year, I stopped focusing on them in my own life. I stopped listening to my positive self. I was worrying about the what-ifs of the future more than celebrating the certainty of today. I stopped celebrating how far I had come in exchange for worries about what might be coming next. I stopped celebrating the years that I have already have lived and wondering about ones I might miss. I stopped celebrating my own life as a survivor. Stopped celebrating today. This moment. Right now. How did that happen?
My dear friend, and her bright and sunny attitude, reignited my bright side. Without knowing it, she made me dig in and wake up. She reminded me of me, in the best kind of way, and although she doesn’t even know it, she helped me flip on a switch that had somehow been turned off. Talking to her reminded me that I needed to dig back in and find the positive….not just find the positive, but remember to apply my bright side to my own life. I can easily tap into it to help others, but I had been tuning it out for myself. I needed to take some time, and make some effort, to find it again. And, if is wasn’t coming easily, I would just keep trying. And that is what I did. And, you know what, I am seeing it. I am feeling it too. I forgot what it felt like to listen to my own bright side. And, it feels kind of good.
So, as I sit here today, and think about where I wanted my project to go, and how it got so off track, I realize something that makes me smile. Even from the beginning, I always planned to wind up talking about the positive. And, although this was not the way I planned to get to this part of the project, it did get here. Sometimes plans seem completely thrown out the window, and other times, they amazingly get right back on track, without any plans at all. Some things are meant to be. A-ha.