I have always considered myself a pretty grateful person. I have a strong faith so I’m thankful for the many things I know I have that I don’t deserve. I’m grateful for the big – waking up every morning- and the small -front row parking spot at the mall. However in the midst of chemo, I have realized something.
10. I take a lot of things for granted.
Now I’m not talking about the big things. I know I’m blessed to still have my mom and for her to be healthy and strong enough to help take care of me and my 2 daughters during this time. I’m grateful I have 2 sisters who were willing and able to drop everything to be with me when I needed them. I’m grateful my daughters who even as young as they are have been strong and resilient through this. I’m grateful for the relationship with my ex-husband and his willingness to help me and the girls wherever we needed him. And, I’m grateful for incredible friends and a network of people who prayed for me and cared enough to do so much for me and my family.
But especially while undergoing chemotherapy, you feel the weight of things you used to be able to do that now you CANNOT.
For me, one of the biggest things I missed during this time was just my freedom. Freedom to go and do things. I didn’t even drive for at least a week every chemo round. I wasn’t allowed to go to public places. I missed places that aren’t even fun – like the grocery store. My last rounds were at the end of the school year, so I even missed going to the end of the year assembly and some of the girls performances. At one point I got ready to take them bowling as an end of school celebration and then realized, I couldn’t be in a bowling alley! I wasn’t able to go or do what I wanted.
I missed being able to workout. There have been so many days in my life when I was too lazy to get up and go running. But now I really can’t – physically and I thought about all those times I didn’t, when I could have. I thought about how I should have been more grateful for a body that has carried me many miles including a marathon, 3-day 60 mile breast cancer walk (long before I knew this was going to happen) and many half marathons along the way. Now I can barely raise my arms above my head. I totally took my health for granted. It’s strange because as we get older, we still feel like and act like things aren’t going to happen to us. When you lose your health in a situation like this, it’s so ABRUPT. So, it’s easy to see – you’ve really taken it for granted.
I missed hanging out with my friends. They were all around me but it wasn’t the same. I missed being out with them, sitting at a bar and cracking up. Being with people I enjoy helps me be a BETTER me.
I missed traveling. Not being able to get on an airplane meant I spent more time at home over an 8 month period than I probably ever have. I enjoy going places and experiencing other environments, meeting strangers and being in new places. Before, I used to fuss about having to travel for work. But not going to conferences I usually went to in the summer or media trips really bummed me out.
Although a luxury, I missed getting manicures, pedicures, my hair done (won’t be doing that for a while now :). There was no pampering during chemo – the risk of infection was too great. Not even a massage.
I just didn’t realize how good I had it. Things I did everyday or whenever I wanted were STRIPPED away. And now I realize I didn’t really appreciate them before they were gone. I know my life wasn’t perfect before, but it was pretty awesome. I realize that NOW more than ever.
My life could be so different and I know we all have varying degrees of ‘the good life’. But I never stopped to think about NOT having these things in my life, because I’ve had them for so long. But I may not have them forever and I know others don’t ever have them. So I’m trying to take time to appreciate things more now, the big and the small.
There are so many things that in the midst of my complaints or worries, I now see as a blessing. I know surviving cancer should make you grateful for having life. But it also makes you realize what really makes up your life and how precious those things are. I hope I don’t lose that awareness cause being more grateful truly makes life more enjoyable. And that’s what I’m ALL about these days!