What Is Paramount

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: mastectomy, path of rememberance, radiation, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Yesterday was the anniversary of one of the most significant life-changing decisions that I have thus far followed through on. Bigger than decisions like marriage, career, divorce or moving across the country. Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy.  My pragmatism and intuition told me that cutting to the chase, although  having “just” stage zero breast cancer, was the right think to do. While some tried saying that I was having a hysterical ‘knee-jerk’ reaction, I knew better.

Barkhamsted Bike Boots

A lovely banana snack view while sitting atop a dam.

I had a seriously stacked genetic breast cancer tree, even though I tested negative for the BRACA gene. My daily struggles with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue are serious. My chances of rebounding well after the traditional breast cancer regimen — lumpectomy and rounds of radiation — well, they didn’t look good for me.

On a good day, I was already functioning on a healthy radiation patient’s downward slope. And, after reading and discussing my odds with doctors, of them finally being stacked higher in my favor if I was free of any ticking time bombs on my body? I knew a bilateral was the way to go. And after the surgery, it was found that the “healthy” breast was full of cancer cells. I made the right choice.

Now four years after that, how am I doing? I’m content with life. I’m happy. And, that’s largely because of my friends, family and framily.

At some point during my trek through breast cancer, as a patient or now as a survivor, they became huge contributors to my overall quality of life. Whether they’ve shared support, reflection, an ass-kicking of reality, or, some uproarious laughter — they’ve been an integral part of my life feeling blessed and rich. They’re actively thanked for that, quite often.

As this anniversary had been approaching I kept finding myself asking, “What has having had cancer done to my life? What have I learned? And, how have I subsequently grown from that?”

Annie Me Painting

Annie treated me to a “Candied Skull” painting party. Lots of fun!

For certain, this is what I’ve learned is important to my life:

Treasuring high-quality friends is paramount.

People with integrity and honor are like rare treasures. When they flow through your life, honor them with your respect, support, honesty, laughter and love whenever possible. Be sure and spontaneously remind them just how wonderfully they make your life sparkle.

Peacefully letting go of toxic acquaintances is paramount.

If someone proves themselves to be toxic, I do my best to just let them go in peace. It took a while to learn to do this. It also took a while to learn how to do this.

I am actively working on embracing that ‘everybody is at where they’re at.’ It doesn’t make anyone good or bad. It just becomes more a matter as to if I can make a healthy contribution to their lives, and them to mine.

Everyone deserves a fair chance. But if someone proves to not be a good mesh into my life? I’ve learned that it’s far healthier to let them go — for me and for them. I give thanks for whatever was good within them and then I let them go.

Barkhamsted bike parked

“Lucky Luke” resting at the reservoir.

Consciously living in a state of gratitude is paramount.

This one is super simple … Be thankful for what you do have. Really, that’s it.

No walking around with Daisies falling out of your brains and butterflies kissing your footprints kind of bliss. Focus on what you do have, be thankful for it.

Did you wake up today? Did you walk to the bathroom on your own? Where you able to go to the bathroom on your own? Can you bathe yourself? Can you fix yourself a sandwich? Do you have shoes on your feet, proper clothing for a season? Some change in your pocket, a roof over your head?

No matter how bad it gets, if you can answer “yes” to any of those questions — you have it far better than millions of other human beings who woke up today do. For, someone out there today would give anything to bask in your good fortune.

Told ya it was simple.

Having a sense of humor is paramount.

My sense of humor is my number one coping skill. Scientifically speaking, there is all kinds of research out there that supports that laughter does all kinds of wonderful things for our bodies. No matter how bleak a situation may be, if I can find a sliver of humor in it, I’ll have experienced a ray of hope.

Humor has gotten me through some tough spots in life. Well, okay, it’s gotten me into some too. But that’s beside the point!

♦   ♦   ♦

So, how did I celebrate my 4th anniversary yesterday? It began with some Allman Brother’s tunes blasting through my morning coffee as I got ready to seize a balmy 70ºF fall’s day with a ride on “Lucky Luke” — I gave thanks for all of my friends, family and of course, my bike! I had a gorgeous two+ hour ride on the bike and later a fun evening at a painting party with my friend, Annie. It made for a most lovely anniversary day.

Stormdrain 2

Small details of a reservoir storm drain.

One last note … I’d like to make sure that this is left in my written trail of remembrance … Know that every nanosecond of your positive contribution to someone’s life really does matter. Keep on spreading that life-affirming manure, ’cause it really does count.

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A Path Of Remembrance

Posted: May 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: cancer girl, IHP, Maxee, path of rememberance | Comments Off

At this very specific moment in time, myself as a conscious being writing this post and then again when you as a conscious being read this post, a Leaf Cutter ant is moving through its day in the jungle.

   This ant, we’ll call her Moxee, is contributing to her community. The probability of you or I ever meeting Moxee are slim to none. Yet, we are each an equally integral part of our communities — for comfort and for the survival of our species as a whole.
   Moxee communicates with minute, powerful droplets of chemicals, not with words. Scientist so far have only been able to decipher a little bit of what these complex tiny droplets relay. They’re pretty sure some of the droplet is for messages of food locations and/or dangers ahead. But, I wonder, do the ants also share their history, humor or tales of their relative’s triumphs and failures — a path of remembrance? I’m betting they do. If they didn’t, they would have to reinvent how to survive every single time a new generation of ants were born. They’ve been toted as being an “enthusiastically social insect.”

   What stories of another ant’s decisions and deeds would be important enough for an ant to pass along from generation to generation? Important enough for them to learn from so they could continue to exist as one of the most successful species, as conscious beings? Like us, do they ponder what impact their life will have after all is said and done?
:::Cancer Girl dons her superhero costume. Steps onto the “IHP” (Imagination’s Hyperspace Portal).
With conviction she says, “ENGAGE!” We follow along the IHP leap.

   A field of tall grass gently sways with the afternoon breeze. Looking around Cancer Girl sees meandering paths etched into the field, all crisscrossing each other in various points along the way. Each blade of the tall grass in each of these paths has been bent by that person’s decision and deeds — creating a path of remembrance.
   She turns and looks far off into the distance at the beginning section her own path of remembrance and the points where it has crossed or has been crossed by another person in her life. Each bent blade of grass echos the memory of their interactions and the results in her life and theirs.
   There are varying degrees of impact upon each blade. Some are badly crimped, jaggedly torn. Some have even withered away. Their condition reflects the depth of decisions and deeds done with bad intent. Angry words, hatred, jealousy or malice towards another. It makes for some very bumpy looking swaths in the intertwining paths.
   Cancer Girl sighs deeply. There is no way of going back to change those blades or the impact they had at the time on others. They are what they are.
   Her eyes gaze upon the section of grass that is closer to her. There are fewer blades that are in the same condition. She can tell at which point in her life she started to take responsibility for her intent, her actions and deeds with the crisscrossing paths.
   These blades gently undulate and echo patience, kindness, love and strength. The strength to not reciprocate malice. Instead, she sees where she chose to respond with the deliberation of personal responsibility.
   And then she sees the most amazing thing of all … The places where her path had crisscrossed with these negative people, had a rippling effect. Her positive choice rippled out onto other paths of remembrance that surrounded her. These where the paths of people in her life who witnessed or heard of these interactions.
   She saw that some of the observing paths began to also gently undulate around the ragged jutting blades that popped up in their own paths of remembrance. They had learned from her choice of response. They saw that you could walk a path of personal responsibility and still remain strong.
   Sometimes she had been mocked or even seen as being weak for choosing to face malice with kindness, strength and grace, with personal responsibility. But now she knew for sure it was all worth it. She could see how her own path of remembrance affected others.
   Cancer Girl breathed in deeply the magic of this moment. The magic of having a positive impact upon other paths of remembrance.
   She did a one-eighty and looked at the pristine grass that lay before her. It had yet to have any paths upon it. She knew that for however long she had left to continue on her path of remembrance in this field of life, her choices, and how they affected others, was all she had of importance to leave behind.

:::Cancer Girl hits a button on her superhero bracelet while saying,
“It’s time for this one to go home.”

   Whew! Cool IHP journey, but what the heck does that have to do with Moxee the Leaf Cutter ant you ask? Lots. If Moxee’s path of remembrance is important to her community’s survival, what makes you think ours isn’t too? We need to embrace how our decisions and deeds are impacting others. We need to embrace the responsibility of our paths of remembrance.
   I am going to do my utmost to leave behind blades of grass that echo laughter, irony, defiance and humor in the face of adversity, more laughter, lots of love, respecting myself enough to not stoop to malice with intent, some more love, some more laughter and hopefully a vast span of integrity.
   What are your actions with intent etching upon your path of remembrance?

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