Finished treatment less than 5 years ago
By now you’ve probably watched the show, The Walking Dead, a show based around zombies.
There are many people who are like zombies in their everyday life, though - sleep walking, “zombieing” and just meandering their way through life, setting life on cruise, doing the exact same thing day in and day out.
Then there are those people who have had a wake-up call - whether from a brutal attack, being bullied or having a potentially fatal disease, like myself with breast cancer.
After recovering and surviving, you all of sudden have a new lease on life: the smell of spring is that much sweeter, the sand on the beach is that much softer, and I’m sure if you have hair the wind in it feels that much better! Everything about life is just that much better than it was before your health scare.
Another true life lesson for me along the way was to take it easy; don’t be so hard on myself and don’t sweat the small stuff, which I have always done! A difficult lesson. You might call me a Type A personality!
Before getting breast cancer I had complete control of my life - or so I thought. Don’t get me wrong: life was good with a wonderful fiancé; my great family and friends; a fantastic, and for the most part fun, career; our own house; and my health (I thought). But I kept too close tabs on everything in my life and was stressing over the small things.
The experts say that there are a lot of things that can help people through life’s toughest challenges: relationships, including those with good friends and family; power and control (but not too much - lol) by maybe influencing the people around you; belonging and being needed and contributing to something you feel is important; and finding a person and place to connect with. Maybe connect with an old friend, and find like people in a support group (there’s a great one in Port Hope for breast cancer survivors at the Knights of Columbus Hall the second Wednesday of every month), signing up for a new activity in your community, exercise, and also having some sort of regular routine.
I have often said throughout this journey that I haven’t had any bad days, just bad moments. And I attribute that to not only staying positive, but also the network of amazing people that have gathered around me. From bracelets that say “Fighting for Jenny” to t-shirts that way the same, including a pretty amazing saying on the back of the men’s ones that says, “Don’t let cancer steal second base!” to the amazing benefit that was held in my honour in March, that raised the funds that would help me to not worry so much about my bills, which should be the last thing you should worry about when you’re trying to get back to you, back to health. I know that the Cobourg Lions Community Centre (the amazing place where my benefit was held) holds about 500 people and it was a packed house all night! I often look back at that night and just shake my head.
There are many people I am thankful for for that amazing night, but two people in particular include Quinn and Shaun Savoy, who spearheaded the whole thing and put it together in less than a month, while keeping it a secret from me for a better part of that!
I know I have survived a potentially fatal disease, but it’s hard for me to look at it that way. Although my mother passed from this deadly disease, I knew I would come out on the other side fine. I never thought I was going to die.
My dad said I had to get through “the process.” And I have and I’m here to say so. Things have changed since 1990 when my mom passed…. A lot has changed.
But I think I’m on my way to mastering the Type B way of life, though, and when I start to see myself fall back into old ways I try to remind myself to take it easy. It’s a hard thing to fight, though, since we’ve all been wired this way for so many years. And although I’m only 32, my stepmom got me my first set of worry dolls when I was only nine (you tell these little dolls your problems, place them in a bag and place under your pillow and let them take care of your problems overnight for you)!
You have to know when to step back and just enjoy the moment.
So if I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be this: don’t “zombie” your way through life and don’t wait for something bad to happen in your life to give you a wakeup call. As they say: Life is short. Time is fast. There’s no replay and no rewind. So enjoy every moment as it comes.