Life after cancer.

Tonight, I am once again reminded why my mother has the biggest heart of anyone that I know.

Tomorrow is her (fingers crossed) last chemotherapy treatment. She’s been talking about it for weeks. And, though it’s been a pretty freaking miserable process for her the past few months, we were very lucky that her cancer was caught early, and that (fingers crossed) she’ll go into complete remission and we’ll never have to deal with cancer again.

Anyways, I digress.

After spending a few hours at Starbucks tonight, with a friend of mine, I returned home to find that my mother had gone to bed even earlier than usual. An hour earlier than normal. When I asked my dad if she was alright (being worried that she’d gone to bed so early) he said that she was tired from all of the baking she’d done.

What?

Oh yeah. My mom, with the help of my dad, baked lemon pie tarts for the staff of the cancer clinic. She plans to give them to all of the staff tomorrow when she goes in for her last treatment.

Atop the container filled with lemon tarts, she’d taped a note. The envelope says ‘Thank You’. Me, being the nosey daughter that I am, had to open it to read the note.

Here’s how it reads.

Thank You.

Thank you to each and every one of you [she names the staff members, doctors and nurses who’ve helped her the past few months] for helping me, for taking me on my worst day, at my lowest moment and making me feel better. Thank you for wiping away my tears, talking away my fears and for treating me as good, if not better, then you would treat your own family members.

It’s because of the incredible kindness of each of you hat I am here, that I have the opportunity for full recovery, that I get to be one of the lucky ones.

Thank you. It’s because of you that I’ve got a second chance. You’ve given me my life back, and I can’t stop thinking about all of the Christmas and Birthday celebrations that I’ll get to be a part of with my children and grandchildren now, thanks to you. Every moment, every celebration, it will matter that much more than it ever did before.

I am eternally grateful for all that you’ve done for me. And, I really hope that you take this a good way when I say that I hope I never have to visit here ever again.

Sincerely,

[Mom’s name]

I most definitely had an ‘I’m not crying, you’re crying’ moment when I read it. I resealed the envelope and taped it back to the container as to not let her know that anyone touched it.

Tomorrow is her final chemotherapy treatment (if all goes according to plan). I’m feeling grateful, and thankful that she now gets to start thinking about life after cancer. I know not everyone gets that lucky. And, from the note I read, it sounds like she’s already begun planning her life after cancer… which in itself makes me extremely happy.

7 Rules for Life

  1. Make peace with your past so it doesn’t disturb your future.
  2. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  3. The only person in charge of your happiness is you.
  4. Don’t compare your life to anyone else. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  5. Time heals almost everything. Always give it some time.
  6. Stop thinking so much. It’s completely okay to not know all of the answers.
  7. Smile! You don’t own the world’s problems.

Do not let your fire go out.

A lonely, naive, younger version of myself once read a quote in a book that has been turning over in my mind ever since.

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

Les Brown

If ever there were motivation to lead a full life, to not question your capabilities and to chase your dreams, this is it. Reading this was just so sad. It’s absolutely true, which I think is why it’s so sad.

So many people don’t go after what they want in life because they’re conditioned to a life of security and conformity. They believe that what they have is all they will ever get. At the same time so many people don’t go after what they want in life because they’re afraid of the uncertain, the unknown and believe that all that could be out there for them is pain.

When I think of all of the reasons to not try – things that aren’t always within someone’s control, I can’t help but think there are so many more reasons to try.

There are days when my anxiety is absolutely debilitating, and I know I am not the only one to feel that way. And there are people in this world who are really suffering horrendous situations that I could not fathom, nor understand. But, they’re still trying. And me, I’m going to keep going. Even when my anxiety is telling me to not get out of bed. I don’t want to be one of those lost souls in the graveyard with the unwritten book. And I don’t want to think about all of the unmet potential laying in graveyards around the world. I want to be known for encouraging my friends and family to go after what they want in life.

So, to follow up one sad but true quote with a powerful and true quote, the moral of this story is:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.

Ayn Rand

The struggles of being a girl, part two.

I realize with the last list that I made that there are so many struggles that come with being a girl. And so, I’ve compiled a part two. This is meant to look at things in a light-hearted way, but also, to be informative and serious. This list is not meant to bash anyone or tear anyone down. I’m also not whining, I’m just talking about the very real reality of being a female in 2019. Here goes:

  1. “Don’t be such a girl” and”Don’t be such a pussy” and “You’re such a whiny little bitch” and so on and so forth… We’ve all heard them before. It’s likely that we’ve even said them ourselves a few times without realizing what we’re doing. Have you ever noticed though, when someone from the male gender is insulted, he’s referred to as having some sort of feminine characteristics… implying that females are weak, horrible and whiny. I most often hear men use them as insults, but I will say that women do it as well. Whenever I hear it though, I remind people that if their main form of insulting someone is by degrading my entire gender, they’re coming off looking pretty stupid.
  2. The Pink Tax. Have you ever looked at two like products, identical even, one marketed towards women and one marketed towards women? The women’s item costs more. Always. Companies put higher prices on items marketed towards women – though it might be just small, it’s something that adds up. 8% here, 10% there and you can look at thousands of dollars by the time a year is done. Where you can, if you know about the Pink Tax, you can buy the products marketed towards men. But, it’s not always possible. And imagine how much that adds up over a lifetime. Next time you’re in the grocery store – wander down the aisle and compare like products of men’s shave gel to women’s shave gel, or a men’s razor to a women’s razor. There will be a difference in price.
  3. Wage Disparity. It’s a proven fact that women earn 79 cents for every dollar that a man makes for like positions of employment. I happen to have experienced this firsthand at my last position – where I had a male counterpart with no education, four years less experience than I and little-to-no knowledge of the industry, who made 12,000 more per year than I made. This happens everywhere. Men seem to be valued more in work environments in spite of what a female may bring to the table. I have a friend who, in an entry level position obtained with his bachelor’s degree, makes more in his second year of work than his wife does with a PhD and five years experience. Now I understand they work in different industries, but how does a doctor make less than someone who barely scraped through a bachelors degree? I think that it’s something people gripe about, but then often forget about and move on with their lives because it seems like a battle too big to wage. But honestly, I wish there were more people talking about it. There are doctors, lawyers, welders, mechanical engineers, and so many more women who are making less than there male counterparts for seemingly no other reason than they are not male.
  4. Feminine hygiene products are a ‘luxury’. This is an important thing to to note – in many parts of the United States, and the world for that matter, feminine hygiene products are taxed as being a luxury item. This has nothing to do with the Pink tax, this has to do with government’s making a willing decision to declare these products as something that is not needed, but rather, something we just choose to buy because we like them. This luxury tax can range anywhere from 5 to 14 percent, for the purchase of something that is ‘not a necessity’ according to government. I don’t know when PMS became a choice, but if I could choose to be without it, I would. In the meantime though, it seems like a lofty price to pay over a lifetime solely for the fact that you’re a woman with properly functioning body parts.
  5. When your bra tries to kill you. (Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic with that leadup) It’ll happen so casually, you’re just out one day – walking down the street in the sunshine with a friend or your dog and bam… out of nowhere there’s a sharp pain in your chest. Just because the laws of the universe say you can never keep your comfortable bras, one wire has exploded out the side of your bra and shoved itself into your skin, possibly hard enough to cause you to bleed. It doesn’t happen very often, but I’m certain that every girl knows how it feels.
  6. Trying to run with big boobs, or boobs in general. I’m not a runner. That is largely in part to the size of my boobs. I explained it to a male friend of mine once by asking him to put his backpack on his front instead of his back, and then telling him to run down the road. I genuinely think he understood after that point. It’s just… harder. If you’re a girl and you’re a runner – I commend you. Girl you are my hero.
  7. Being slut shamed without being slut shamed. Honestly, when you try to explain a story of something that made you uncomfortable, or scared, or mad, about an interaction with someone and the person you’re telling the story to asks “what were you wearing?”, that’s a real piss off. That’s how you slut shame someone without calling them a slut and I hate it. I hate it when I hear that phrase. Whether you’re wearing a mini skirt or a down parka, it really doesn’t give anyone the right to mistreat you.
  8. When we focus on our work we’re considered not girly enough and we when we focus on our looks we’re considered vain. That’s really all there is to it. No explanation necessary.
  9. Bobby pins and hair ties seem to grow legs and walk away. I can’t even fathom how much money I’ve spent on these items over the years. Where do they all go? Perhaps they’re all having a party somewhere in the sunshine. Oh, it’s especially the worst when you’re down to your last hair tie and you go to put up your hair in a nice ponytail and the hair tie breaks in your hand. Cringe.

Regardless of your gender I think we can all agree that we need to be nice to one another. Everyone goes through struggles in life and we’ve all got a battle to fight. Be kind.

Struggles of being a girl, part one >

Not afraid of what’s to come.

Normally people talk about having ups and downs in life. From my perspective, the past eight weeks of my life have had a lot of downs. I won’t lie, there has been a few good moments. But, it’s seemed as though the bad has far outweighed the good. For me, bad things don’t come in three’s, bad things come in eleven’s or twelve’s.

Nevertheless, life goes on and we must learn to deal with what is put in front of us. For me, for the first time in eight weeks, I am feeling hopeful. At least I think this is what hope is.

Today was a really good day. Nothing overly special happened, it was just a calm quiet Sunday. I think that’s why I liked it so much though. Calm and quiet are good things to have right now.

This week I will be getting some blood tests done to test for autoimmune diseases. I’m not afraid of being diagnosed with something. At this point, I would actually really like to be given a diagnosis. At least with a diagnosis, I could have proof that my symptoms aren’t in my head. Also, with a diagnosis, I could say ‘okay, this is what it is, lets work towards minimizing my symptoms and the toll it takes on me’. Wish me luck!

In other news, something really cool is happening this year that I haven’t really talked, or thought much about the past eight weeks. My two younger brothers are identical twins. This year, they’re having babies… just two months apart from each other. They’re going to become dad’s for the first time, right around the same time. I’m excited to see what the future holds for them, I am excited to meet the newest little additions to my family and I have been really enjoying shopping for adorable baby clothes for them. The babies will be technically both cousins and half-siblings (DNA of identical twins being the same). How cool is that?

This week I am determined to make farther steps to getting a new job. I’m tired of being unemployed. I don’t need work to feel as though I have a purpose, but I want to work to feel as though I am contributing to something. Furthermore, I want to travel so I need to work to save money. All things said, I NEED A JOB. Vee does not want to tolerate being unemployed any longer. I am a badass, intelligent human being with a university degree and ten year’s experience working PR for a massive organization. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN. (That was a pep talk to myself, in case it wasn’t clear)

It’s 8:30 on a Sunday night and I’m already considering curling up and calling it a night. Is this what being a grandma is like?

Rest easy, world.

Things that you should do E-V-E-R-Y SINGLE DAY

These things, they may seem rather straight forward, but, sometimes it’s just nice to see things in writing to remind myself. I know that I need a reminder every day. I also find this list is filled with things that are really easy to overlook/talk yourself out of doing.

  1. Drink water. There are integral benefits to your body when you fill it with lots of water each and every day. Feel a headache coming on? Drink some water. Feeling thirsty and tired? Drink some water. Bored? Drink some water. It’s not a be all to end all cure, but it sure does help in a lot of ways.
  2. Wash your face. Your face is your first impression – get yourself a gentle cleanser, one without fragrance, and make sure that you’re washing it. Get rid of the dirt and impurities that might be hiding in your skin after a long day of it being filled with pollutants. Guy or girl, your skin will thank you for it.
  3. Watch the news. Read the news. Listen to the news. And I mean the news, not a facebook or twitter update. I believe that it’s highly important for EVERYONE to be informed of what is happening in the world. You might not think that things half a world away will have an affect on you, but when Saudi oil prices rise or goods from China are more heavily taxed, these things will make a difference in all our lives. Really, I could go on and on about this one – but I’ll just leave it with – keep yourself in the know so that you don’t look like a fool if you don’t.
  4. Be active. Whatever this looks like for you and your body and your lifestyle, do it. Stretch, go for a ten minute walk, go to the gym, do some yoga, do whatever it is that you can to get your body moving and your endorphins running. Endorphins trigger positivity… and who doesn’t want to be more positive?
  5. Stay organized and clean. There is truth to the statement ‘healthy space, healthy mind’. Walking into a dirty house, bedroom or bathroom can fill you with anxiety. Don’t allow yourself those triggers. Keep your home organized and clean.
  6. Wear sunscreen… EVEN ON CLOUDY DAYS. UVA and UVB rays can penetrate you anywhere and everywhere. Protect your skin from being leathery and wrinkly when you get old, and protect yourself from the very real reality that is skin cancer. That’s not meant as a scare tactic. It’s just something that’s true. It’s so easy to put on sunscreen, so why not?
  7. Eat breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, nutritionally speaking. It sets your metabolism for the rest of the day and it either makes, or breaks (if you don’t eat it) your energy that you can put forth during the day. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast and notice the difference in makes in how you operate the rest of the day.
  8. Face your fears. Insecurities are something that can very easily eat away at you if you let them. But, if you go out and go after your fears each day, even if it’s in a small way, they’re not going to feel so big the next day. I think Lululemon penned the saying originally, but ‘do one thing a day that scares you’.
  9. Ask yourself “Do I really need this?” In this day and age, it’s really easy to purchase things that you don’t need but feel the desire to buy because of a whim. If you have a hard time keeping a budget, or even if you don’t, don’t be someone who collects thing just to collect them. If it’s going to take up space and clutter your life, you don’t need to bring it home from the store.
  10. Remember who you are. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like being yourself isn’t good enough. If you’ve got a sense of humour, if you’ve got a bubbly personality, let those shine through. Let the world see who you are and don’t ever shy away from that. The best people in this world show exactly who they are. Don’t ever be afraid of that.