Cancer has not been easy but it’s taught me the value of each day
My definition of a rotten day has changed.
Have you ever had a rotten day?
A day where you felt shortchanged? Overwhelmed? Hurt? Fed up?
A day where you just want to go to bed so that the day can be over with?
A day where you just can’t wait for tomorrow to start?
I have had days like those. In my life I can recall specifically which days those are. After being diagnosed with breast cancer last May, one would think I have a lot of rotten days after that. Well to be honest I don’t. I don’t have that many days where I can file them as one of those “terrible, no-good, rotten days”. Sometimes it’s even difficult to point to a rotten day.
But before cancer, it was easier to bitch and moan. It was easier to get through the day with a chip on one’s shoulder that seems like the weight of the world. It was easier to drag my feet. It was easier to find something to complain about. It was easier to point fingers and find fault. It was easier to feed negative energy. It was easier to stay submerged in misery like it was a glistening pool. It was easier to get through the day feeling rotten and stay there.
Fast forward to now. After a lumpectomy, 21 days of radiation, 3 chemotherapies and countless rounds of bloodwork and tests, my rotten days are few and numbered. Those fleeting moments of guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, pain and more became just that – moments.
I don’t say that my rotten days are over. Far from it. I know exactly how rotten I can feel. I know how rotten feels when I breathe. I know how rotten tastes. I know how rotten feels in the pit of my stomach. I know how rotten feels with the curling of my toes as I fight off a wave of nausea. I know how rotten feels with the tingling on my bald head, a sign of a headache coming. I know how rotten feels in my skin. I know how rotten feels with my heartbeat as it palpates erratically. I know how rotten feels with the tremor that my body feels at night. I know how rotten feels. Yes, I know it very well.
But after having cancer I learned the value of a day. I learned to be grateful that I have this moment now no matter what the future brings. This illness made me reevaluate my life and the definition that I use to describe it. I realized that life is too precious, too fragile, and too special. Why then would I keep tabs on what is not going well when I can celebrate all that is going right?
So my definition of rotten days changed. From days it became moments. Moments that can come and easily go. Moments that contain a story that I choose to follow or I choose to drop. Moments where I hear myself in pity talk and wallowing in dark thoughts. Moments that I permit myself to feel and then to breathe out.
So my rotten days became rotten moments. Some moments are short, some moments are long. But I try my best to begin and end the day with a particular goal—that I get through it in as much as I can regardless of the rotten moments and be at peace with the choices I made. That at the end of the day, I made the day matter. Not in the grandiose scheme of things, it mattered because I can breathe in gratitude, my heart beats so full of love, I can smile with joy, and I can feel the grace of all that is good around me and in me. How can I feel rotten after that?
Lana Jelenjev is a freelance educational consultant who recently got diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37. She blogs about her activities with her children at Smart Tinker. and recently started writing about her musings on parenting with cancer at Goodness,Grace and Gratitude. Follow her on Twitter @Smart_Tinker.
First published by reimagine.me