One year ago today, I was having my second surgery to create bigger margins around where the surgeon removed the cancerous tumor from my breast and to remove some lymph nodes to examine as well.
It has me thinking … when you’re facing a potentially life-threatening disease, you can’t help but think about life differently. It just happens. All of a sudden, what seems so important doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore … and the truly important things come to the surface. Tragedy and challenges have a way of helping us decipher what really matters in life and what doesn’t. Many of these lessons I knew in my head before cancer, but after cancer, I know them more fully in my heart — they’re more real.
So as crazy as it sounds, I’m thankful for the life lessons that cancer has taught me:
- Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so don’t take a single day for granted.
- Live each moment to the fullest.
- Hug a little longer; cling a little tighter.
- Don’t put off what you need to say to someone; say it.
- Laugh more often.
- People matter way more than things do.
- Deeply appreciate your family & friends.
- Invest in the lives of others; put down the phone, turn off the TV, and enjoy family & friends.
- Be thankful for every morning that you wake up because it’s another day to make a difference on the planet and to enjoy the people in your life.
- Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
- Honor yourself by not saying “yes” to everything.
- Be OK with letting others down if it means taking care of you.
- Be at peace with your decisions, even if others disagree.
- Make decisions out of peace and faith, not fear.
- If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of others. (I’m not talking about being selfish, of course.)
- Your daily choices matter to your health, your relationships, and your future.
- The past has passed, so let go of it and be present.
- Your mindset and self-talk affect everything, so aim for Philippians 4:8.
- Reject anxiety and worry; talk to God instead and receive His peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
- Let go of anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness; life is too short and it takes a lot of negative energy to hold onto these negative emotions. Set people free and free yourself in the process.
- Don’t watch the news; it’s too negative and depressing.
- Never give up hope.
- Just because I’m going through something bad doesn’t mean that God has abandoned me; in fact, He’s closer than ever.
- Surround yourself with positive, faith-filled people (and distance yourself from those who are not).
- Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing!
- Time is one of our most valuable resources, so we need to use it wisely.
I’m sure there are more … and maybe I’ll expand on these in the future … but I wanted to share these to encourage you to not wait for a tragedy to make you realize some of these truths.