If you asked me on 1 February how I thought I’d feel after my last round of radiotherapy, I probably wouldn’t have known how to answer you. Actually, I might have said lucky. But today, I feel so much more than lucky. I feel blessed, thankful, happy and I feel very, very grateful.
I’ve written many times about feeling grateful – but as I celebrate the end of the ‘therapies’ – chemotherapy and radiotherapy (hooray!), the overwhelming feeling I have is that I am thankful and grateful. What for? Everything. Catching the cancer in time, my surgeon/ oncologists/ physio/ counsellor/ nurses, my family, my friends, that I was given strength and courage to get through the last seven months, that I live in such a beautiful part of the world (with a spectacular coast line and marvellous sunsets), my resilience, my health and, most importantly, my life.
Sitting in waiting rooms and hospitals teaches you that life is short. So short that to be anything other than happy now seems to me to be a bit of a waste of time. I have to say, if you’d asked me in January to describe how I felt, ‘happy’ wouldn’t have sprung to mind. But now, I try to find little things that make me happy everyday. I also laugh a lot more than I used to, mostly at stupid things… something I’m going to have to learn to control when I return to my corporate job.
Speaking of corporate jobs, I’ve also realised that mine really used to define me. And in fact, pre 1 February, if you asked me to describe myself, probably the first thing I would have said is ‘lawyer’. But the reality is that’s not a descriptor of me at all. That was simply my job, all consuming as it was. I wouldn’t now describe myself as a ‘lawyer’, and in fact, after the last discussion with my oncologist, my job really needs to become the least defining aspect of my life. Doctors orders are not to work full time going forward and to lead a very healthy life.
For me, a healthy life is about so many things. Eating well, exercising regularly, being happy/ calm/ relaxed and having faith. I don’t often write about faith and religion, but I really do believe that phrase, ‘without faith there is no hope’. I have gotten a lot of strength and courage from faith and prayer this year. Not only my own praying, but the prayers of so many people. And for all the prayers that have been said, I am grateful. From our friends here in Perth, to those abroad including my Mum’s orthodox friends in the States who convened a prayer group with us by teleconference (prayer in the modern world!), I feel very blessed indeed.
To everyone that has sent me well wishes, prayed for me, sent cards/ flowers/ gifts, dropped in for cups of tea, listened to me whinge, sent positive vibes, exercised with me, invited me for lunch, made me laugh, cooked me dinner etc., thank you! You have no idea what a difference it makes to what can be such difficult days. Opening a card from a friend on the other side of Australia, receiving a beautiful gift from friends abroad, a random delivery of flowers, or even a walk outside in the fresh air, it all makes the days more bearable. Which brings me to my very last point, if one of your friends or loved ones is ever having a difficult time and you are wondering what you can do for them to brighten their day, there are so many options other than flowers. Here are a few thoughts:
- invite them over for brunch or lunch (or go out if cooking isn’t your forte!);
- buy a gift voucher to one of their favourite (or your favourite!) stores for some shopping therapy – think David Jones, Mecca, Big W, Dymocks, Myer;
- deliver a box of fruit and veggies or juices for a few days;
- deliver something for dinner;
- buy a gift voucher to a day spa;
- offer to drive them to medical appointments;
- drop in for a cup of tea;
- offer to get outdoors and go for a walk/ play tennis/ play some park basketball [ask my sister Thalia for any other tips on fun outdoors activities – she’s very good at thinking them up!];
- send a cleaner over, or just head over and wash their dishes/ do the vacuuming/ pick up the washing;
- babysit, if they have children…
The number of things that you can do to brighten someones day are endless.
For now, it’s time to let my body recover and to get as healthy as I can before starting work. Oh, and to lose those 5kg that my oncologist ordered me to lose… off for a walk and an appointment with the exercise physiologist and dietitian!
Until next time, have a fabulous week.