HAPPY CANCERVERSARY TO ME!
Yep, that's right! One year ago today, I was given a cancer diagnosis and my life changed forever.
Some people celebrate their cancerversary on their cancer free anniversary, but, a good friend of mine celebrates hers on her diagnosis anniversary and that resonated with me. So, today's the day! Sort of like a celebration of the day I got a kick in the ass to make some necessary changes to my life.
It's resulted in quite the year…
On this day in 2019, "You have cancer" was the last thing I wanted to hear come from the mouth of my proctologist. A slew of colon cancer symptoms had led me to request a colonoscopy at my young-to-be-diagnosed age of 34, but, that still didn't prepare me to hear the words that would turn my suspicions into my conscious reality.
Intermixed, however, with the shock, fear and disbelief I felt, was a deep knowing that cancer was happening for me and not to me.
While having a diagnosis of cancer was absolutely terrifying; as were the challenges I had to endure as a result, cancer was, what I believe to be, a catalyst for letting go of all that no longer served me.
I won't go into detail here about my journey of having and recovering from cancer (you can read those messy, dramatic and emotional details in my early blog posts). But, I will say that all of that emotional and physical messiness moved me into a higher state of self awareness and allowed me to see life in a whole new light.
Since the moment of diagnosis, I knew I could no longer continue to push myself beyond my limits and ignore my health.
And while a healthy diet and regular physical activity has always been a priority to me, gone are the days that I could overachieve, forgo sleep though excessive caffeine consumption, and numb out physical and emotional pain with unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Now, when my body speaks, I listen.
If I don't listen, fear creeps in and overwhelms me. Not only do I become afraid of getting cancer again, but I also become afraid of the guilt I would feel knowing that I did not do everything I knew I could to prevent it.
Being a cancer survivor has also allowed me to see, with clarity, what is really important in life.
Quality relationships with friends and family.
Not putting too much on my to do list.
Paying attention to, and prioritizing the way I feel physically and mentally (no matter how illogical it seems in the moment).
These are the things that matter. A few of them anyway...
Cancer has also been a catalyst for diving even deeper into one of my favorite things to do: discover what's possible.
Anyone who knows me knows my bucket list is a mile and a half long. Cancer made me realize that life could be short and that waiting until some magical time in the future when it will 'somehow be easier' to work on achieving the more challenging goals is frivolous.
The time is now!
With this realization, four months after my colon cancer surgery, I set off to achieve some of my goals.
I wanted to:
Deepen my meditation practice and make it a regular habit.
Experience living in a communal setting.
Increase my yoga practice to help re-build my strength and honour my body.
Travel solo out of the country for multiple months.
Learn how to cook delicious vegan meals (my post colon cancer diet is much more restrictive).
After doing a lot of research and fiddling with finances, I found a viable way to work towards all of those goals at once and spent nearly 2 months living in an off grid, vegan community at a yoga and meditation retreat centre nestled in a remote area of the Hawaiian Jungle.
During my time there, I began to see my life in a new light. One that made me realize that I am not the failure I had previously felt myself to be.
This experience helped me to acknowledge my strength and abilities as well as take back my personal power.
Unfortunately, my time of self discovery in the tropics was put to an unexpected and abrupt end due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, life at home in isolation has been a gift as well. The lack of options and inability to go places has allowed me time to process the events of the past year, self reflect, and focus on what I want to create for myself for the future.
And so, here I am.
Waiting until this pandemic is over for my follow up tests to make sure I am still cancer free.
Continuing to learn how to re-live.
Working towards creating the future of my dreams.
Taking self care.
Living life the only way any of us really ever can:
One. Day. At. A. Time.
And you know what? It's the perfect way to spend my cancerversary. The only thing I'm missing is an epic healthy cancerversary cake. But hey, my gratitude for everyone who's supported and continues to support me on my journey fills that hole tenfold.
Peace, Love & Thank You for following me on my journey of discovering what's possible,
Edit: Apparently my cancerversary was actually a few days ago on May 3rd but who know's what day it is anymore now that we've all been quarantined for months...