Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Opportunity in Loss

Before I had cancer I cringed when the dog brought in sand from outside. My husband and I argued about whether the silverware should be put face up of face down in the dishwasher. Our house was never clean enough even though I'd spend at least 8 hours "perfecting" it. I'd scold my son when he got excited and ran full force at me for a hug. I'd complain about imagined slights and forget about friends in need of support. I didn't even know how to be supportive. I was so afraid of failing, I barely tried.

I believed in the "if I only had" myth.

If I only had my bedroom painted, the second floor finished, a garage, and a new car I'd be happy.
If only my son would only behave and my husband made more money then I'd be happy. These thoughts lead me to think if I only worked 48-60 hours a week I could make $5000 a month, and then, everything would be perfect.
Any of this sounding familiar? Were you wondering why you weren't perfectly happy too?
When I got cancer, all those ideas crumbled and fell like sand between my fingertips. I'd never experienced such as loss.
I lost my job and our financial stability. My lifelong idea that money could buy a comfortable lifestyle was shattered. My idea that if my house, career, and family were perfect life would be perfect too was  defunct.
I was striped of the foundation of ideas I had about life overnight, only to be left with the clarity to see how I was living was fundamentally different than how I wanted to live.
 I realized I'd open doors, give compliments, and wide smiles to strangers while snapping at the ones' loved most for misspeaking a word or misplacing an item.
I was surprised how sure I was of the life I wanted, and how with all the assets I had, I couldn't obtain  that ideal. I needed clarity, and I found it like most of us do, through loss, by living forwards and understanding backwards.
After cancer (AC), when I didn't feel happy, I'd look back in retrospect with my 20/20 hindsight and think of how I could improve to have the life I wanted next time. I replaced  distractions with reflections.
From losing everything, by my cancer but maybe through your foreclosure, lay-off, divorce, or other catastrophe, having anything felt like winning the lottery.
I was like a child again, excited over every little occurrence like I'd never experienced it before.
I loved that my dog could open the door herself with her muddy feet to check on me.
My husband and I would debate about cheesy comedy vs. science fiction while snuggling on the couch.
I'd open my arms wide when my son would charge full force at me like a football player wanting a hug.
I stopped assuming the worst if my friend forgot to call and started loving them openly and honestly, free from judgements.
The "if I only had" myth turned to the "if I was only healthy" montage. The stability I longed for was not financial. It wasn't anything concrete that could be gifted in this world. I longed for a daily routine and family dinners, not the largest, well groomed home in the neighborhood and the highest income. My concerns of the past didn't even register on worry my radar anymore.
Crisis, cancer, whatever, changes everything, but it doesn't have to change everything for the worst. Even when losing everything, we never lose our free will, our ability to choose, and that includes the choice to focus on happiness.
 Obstacles offer opportunities to grow. Crises allows us to practice our resilience, re-evaluate what is and isn't working in our lives, to emerge happier and smarter.

 Cancer gave me the clarity to see that the life I could still live even if I was poor and ill. I discovered I was bigger than my body, my bank account, clothing or career. Crisis had set me free from my personal measuring stick telling me I had to constantly be perfect. By disowning my own expectations, I was set free to live a life of limitless love and success. All I had to do was lose everything to understand I all ready had it all and didn't even know it. 


... said...

Favorite post ever!!

Anonymous said...

I agree. Unbelievably poignant and so very true! Why do we need a crisis to understand these simple truths?


Anonymous said...

Hill ... you are awesome!! That post was so "on the mark"!! Thank you for sharing that with us. Know that you are in my thoughts often. I hope that our paths cross soon.


Anonymous said...

You continue to amaze me with your writing. It's so true that most of us just don't get it and it takes a serious illness to "get it"!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding us that what really matters is the gift of another day. Many of us vow "in sickness or in health, for richer for poorer..." but these are words for all to live by.