Sunday, October 16, 2011

Choose Your Attitude

I've always had a positive attitude: it could be genes, it could be growing up in a small town, or the shear luck of the draw. Whatever the reason my outlook on life is a key ingredient of my well being.

Life continually throws us challenges but how we choose to grow from the experiences are the important lessons. I lost my parents when they were in their 70's ~ far too young. Little did they know that the lifestyles sold to them as healthy in their youth would be their downfall. They were not of the generation who chose to question authority and trusted the family doctor without a second thought. What I learned is that we have to be our own advocates and take responsibility for our well being.

I've lost close friends to disease and accidents, beloved pets when I made the choice to let them go with dignity. I've faced medical challanges for 20 years and have recently been dealing with breast cancer. Each experience has helped me grow, made me wiser and taught me how to deal with adversity. I've learned that exercise and changes in diet are the best things you can do for yourself at any age. But probably the most important lesson is that life is short: do what makes you happy, start work on your bucket list, keep people in your life who love you for who you are and make you laugh.

This brings me to a conversation with my surgeon when I had my stitches removed last week. Much of the information given to you regarding surgery and recovery tells you to rest and don't do much. I told her it wasn't my style to sit around and I was off and running (albeit carefully and with some common sense) on autumn projects around the house and at a neighbor's the day after my surgeries.

She said to me "Your big picture perspective, positive outlook and sense of humor play a huge part in your overall health and healing". She drew a box in the air and then made a small box in the lower corner of that square. "You have chosen to perceive your cancer as only a small part of your life experience, it will never rule you. Unfortunately many patients choose to let cancer become their life, they become victims of their diagnosis rather than taking on the challenge and looking ahead".

No one said life would be easy, or fighting a life threatening disease would be a cake walk. I just want to encourage anyone dealing with cancer to remember your friends, family and a army of survivors have your back and are there for you. Call in the troops!

This morning's Press Democrat has a great article about cancer survivor Nina Sibert. Her cancer and treatments were far more radical than mine, but her outlook is very similar. Please read and share it. I hope to meet her someday. Here is the link:

Now go outside and enjoy your day!