THE LESSONS CONTAINED IN THE SUFFERING…

On this wintery, blustery day, I went searching for the perfect epitaph for Terri’s bench. So naturally, I went straight to the source; gracefulwomanwarrior. Back to the beginning…

Two hours and many tears later, I made it through the first year of Terri’s blog.

God, could that girl write. And inspire. And energize. I am fired up with an indescribable need to get her blog published. And I only got one third of the way through! In the last few weeks of her life, Aunty Cole, Terri and I spoke often about bringing this dream to fruition.

Rest assured, Team Terri WILL make Terri’s dream a reality. In the mean time, here are a few gems from our Warrior to ponder in the days ahead.

Aunty L

1-28-12

FIGURE OUT WHAT’S IMPORTANT

When you’re faced with your own mortality it causes you to reevaluate what’s important.

At the ripe old age of 37, death is not something I really contemplated before now. And then – wham! You’re diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and your whole perspective changes.

I know some people facing serious illness and terminal disease may be tempted to continue living their lives just as they had before. Changing nothing. And although I continue with the day-to-day tasks of everyday living as I always have, I’ve also been overcome by this strong desire to prioritize. To decide what is truly deserving of my time.

I don’t want to waste my time on bullshit.

I think questioning what is truly important is a good exercise for everyone to do. Are you spending the time you have in a nourishing and fulfilling way? Do you enjoy your work? Do you enjoy your time outside of work? Do you make decisions in line with what you truly want out of life?

Even though I’ve figured out what’s important to me, the hardest step is incorporating these things into my life. Making them a priority.

So let’s all do it together. Let’s make the effort to prioritize the things that bring us joy. Find a few moments each day to do something enriching and enjoyable. Something that makes your day a bit better. That makes this life worth living.

If not now – when?

Make it happen. Peace to all. -T

2-25-12

CHOOSE WELL

Even when it seems life is backing you into a corner you always have a choice. I cannot control the fact that I have cancer. But I can control how I deal with it. I can choose not to let it ruin my life. I can choose to keep on living in spite of it.

It’s your life. Choose well.

With love, – T

3-25-12

MAKE LEMONADE

Even with metastatic breast cancer I’m still enjoying life.

Maybe things aren’t as awful as we imagine them to be. Life in Ohio ain’t all that bad. Not nearly as awful as I thought it might be. Stage 4 breast cancer? Yeah, it sucks a lot of the time. But it hasn’t made my life totally awful.

Maybe it’s really about what you make of the turmoil and not the turmoil itself. Shit happens to everyone. Life has lots of sucky moments. But life only becomes truly awful if we allow it to be.

I will not allow it. Just use your lemons to make lemonade.

Peace. – T

6-22-12

MY CROSS TO BEAR

This is my cross to bear. It is what it is. And who’s to say one person’s cross is worse than another person’s? Every cross is different. And they are all difficult. They all suck. They all bring pain. And yet, our crosses can also force us to ask big questions, re-evaluate priorities, and make a commitment to living a fuller life. Amidst the turmoil we can try to make peace with our crosses. Figure out why that particular cross is ours to bear in the first place. Understand the lessons contained in the suffering. And use it all as an opportunity to grow, learn, and discover who we truly are.

To all those out there with a cross to bear, I feel your pain. We’re all in this together. As my dad, author Spider Robinson, and many of you have said, “Shared pain is lessened, shared joy, increased.” So let’s all keep sharing.

Peace. – T

6-26-12

GOING BEYOND CANCER

Many people tell me how inspired or touched they are by my blog. I know how therapeutic it is for me to write all this down but the fact that my ramblings bring special moments to other people’s lives is so amazing. This whole thing started out as a site to keep family and friends up-to-date on my treatment and has now become so much more than that. I’m still not sure where it’s going, but I know that staying connected with the blog, and everyone reading it, is a good thing.

I think we all have a desire to make our marks in the world. Make a difference in someone’s life. Live a fulfilling life. And yet, it’s so easy to get stuck in fear or the comfort of our routines and completely miss out on the opportunity to do something big. To appreciate the beauty that is all around us. To connect with each other. Take a risk. Try something new.

Let’s not wait any longer to make our mark on the world. We’re all here for a reason. What’s yours?

7-4-12

IT’S NO FUN HAVING CANCER

As I said, it’s so much easier to be happy on the good days. On days like today, when my body starts acting up, there is no denying my reality. I so wish I could be done with it all. But that’s not an option. This is my life. My new life. And sometimes it’s kind of depressing… and it sucks… and it’s totally no fun at all.

But millions of people experience life altering situations every day – accidents, strokes, heart attacks, death, illness… And things are never quite the same again. I guess the key is recognizing that even when a situation is horrible, it doesn’t mean our whole lives have to become horrible as well. There will be good days and bad days. Ups and downs. It is what it is. Some things we can’t change.

Thanks to everyone for pulling me through. For giving me a reason to keep pouring out my soul on this blog, face my feelings, and contribute to my healing. It means a lot. Especially on the “not so good” days like today.

Much love to all. – T

7-22-12

NOT WASTING ANY TIME

Of course there is no way to know how my life will play out. No way for any of us to know.

A few nights ago hubby opened up about how sad he is. Sad that our lives are forever changed. Sad that I have to go through surgery and be in pain. Sad at the thought that Miss M might lose her mom.

Of course I’m sad too. But I’ve gotten really good at detaching myself from the sadness. Just putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to enjoy the moment because who knows how many moments you have left… I don’t want to waste them. I don’t want to be asleep when I can be awake. I don’t want to obsess about cleaning when I can be enjoying time with Miss M. I don’t want to be watching trashy reality tv when I can be reading a good book.

Every single moment truly matters. Time is precious. Let’s not take it for granted.

Peace. – T

12-13-12

GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN

In January I go for my next set of scans. I believe they will show NED (no evidence of disease) – knock on wood… If that is the case, then in my mind the battle becomes one of prevention rather than active treatment. Regardless, most doctors want me to continue taking medications for the rest of my life. However, I truly believe that if it’s all about prevention, all the actions I am taking to fortify and heal my body, mind, and spirit can work just as well as medications – without all the horrible side effects.

It all makes so much sense to me. It feels right to me. The difficult part is convincing everyone else that I’m not crazy for going against the grain and making such “radical” choices. But, I’m learning to get over that. I am listening to my gut. I am honouring my feelings. I am seeking information from all sources. And ultimately, these are my decisions to make.

This is my life. I plan on living it to the fullest.

Peace. -T

12-24-12

PARENTAL LESONS ON LIFE

Parenting is one of the most difficult endeavors I have ever taken on. Nothing tests your patience more than an angry, screaming child.

What I had hoped and expected to be a beautiful festive family day, ended up being a day from hell. And I couldn’t seem to shake the bad energy off me. I carried it with me the rest of the day.

So today I consciously made an effort to start fresh. I sipped my morning coffee from my favourite “Serenity” mug (the same one my mom used to drink from each morning)… I met Miss M where she was at (a valuable skill I learned in social work school) instead of imposing my own expectations or preferences on her… I paid attention to her… We laughed and played together… And aside from one minor incident over some M&M’s this morning we’ve had a pretty awesome day so far.

I realize every day offers an opportunity to start fresh. To let go of the past and welcome each new moment. Do things differently. Make better choices.

It’s been one year since I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. I am so grateful to still be here. To be feeling well. To have the opportunity to celebrate another holiday season with those I love. To live another day.

Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday – filled with serenity, beauty, love… And fresh starts :-)

Peace. – T

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you, Laurie, for offering to us Terri’s words, energy, and no bull attitude in this email. I am imagining her – speaking loud and clear to all of us – to not waste a single minute focusing on anything that does not feed our mind, heart & soul. Having her blogs to reflect on is such a gift.

  2. I, too, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lauren, for all you’ve done in keeping us up to date on Terri’s struggles and progress. I think your plan to publish her blog is sound. Please put me down for a copy. I’ve saved every one of her entries and the later comments as well – they’re often just as interesting and uplifting; I’d love it in book form. I assume you’ll notify us here when it becomes available. Blessings and comfort in your grieving, Elizabeth

    • Thank you Elizabeth, feeling your blessings… Terri’s blog followers will be the first to know of it’s transcendence to book form!

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