Today, marks the first year anniversary since my first chemotherapy session. Looking back on this past year, I’ve grown tremendously as a person. I remember thinking that going through treatment was a form of metamorphosis for me - life was challenging me at my core to become a bigger and better version of my true self. A way for all of the layers of conditioning through years of false pretense and useless societal formation to be ruffled and cracked through to my core, all to reveal my true self. It was a strange way to think about it, looking back at it now, but for some reason that’s just the way I interpreted it. And indeed I can say that this last year since I started chemotherapy and “beat” cancer has been a difficult one full of sadness and grief, resilience and defeat, filled with passion, life, death, pain and beauty. Ultimately, I can say with pride that through it all, I did transform into a butterfly.
Today is an important day to be observed every year for the rest of my life. A day that is meant for reflection. Remembrance of what happened to me, a tribute to life and it’s fragility. A time to remember that gratitude for the basic things is of the utmost importance. A time to remember that life is hard and the happy moments are fleeting, but they are worth living and even more so, they are worth suffering for.
There’s one question that I keep getting from people over and over again that I love to answer and that I think is a valuable lesson. This question is, how has your life or how have you changed since you got sick?
The answer is my mindset. The way I think changed completely.
On this day of reflection, I would like to share with you some of the ways that my mindset changed from surviving cancer:
I value myself in a way I didn’t before. I listen to myself, to my needs, desires, ambitions and dreams. I value all of these inner callings because I realized that these are the things that I have to give to the world and that the opportunity to make them a reality is finite.
I choose my friends, my family carefully. Once I choose a person, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them. This is my nature and I should celebrate it. What’s new now is that I’m selective about who I let into my circle and I feel no obligation just because. I nourish the relationships that nourish me, and I focus on radiating positive energy to attract more positive energy. It's a form of minimalism, I only hold close the relationships that I know add value to my life and that I can give back equally to without fear of being disappointed.
I know that I am insignificant yet so significant at once. When I die, life will go on, some things will change for a little bit but before long I will be irrelevant therefore, the time we have here is so valuable. You get one chance to live, as far as we know, make it worthwhile.
Everything is temporary, nothing remains the same. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down -- either way don’t get too comfortable because it will soon pass. What ultimately defines you is how you behave given temporary circumstances, it is also the only thing you can control.
I know that not everyone will like me. I see this as a good thing- it means I’m not afraid of showing my authentic self. I don’t try to change who I am so that certain people do like me, instead, I find people who like me for who I really am. I stand up for what I truly love and believe in. Even when no one else will. I’ve found that in the long run time will show that I wasn’t wrong, I just got lost in the wrong crowd.
My voice does matter. The truth will set you free. Speaking my truth regardless of the consequences has liberated me from suffering. I’m not doing anyone a service by remaining quiet or making myself small. No relationship is worth repressing your mind or ideas over, and if you have a relationship where this is the case, then it's not really a relationship.
My time is the most valuable asset I have. I must spend it wisely and protect it because no one else will.
Once a person realizes the power of their thoughts, nothing is impossible and endless opportunities are unleashed.
The people who are there for you, really there for you in the darkest hour will live in your heart forever.
It is OK to give up on people. Sometimes its the brave thing to do and sometimes not doing so is just plain stupid. When someone shows you who they really are… believe them.
It’s impossible to share all of the ways I’ve changed but for now I leave you with these shifts in my mindset. I hope that they provoke some thought in you or give you the courage to speak about your own experiences. And remember, let's cherish this day, it may be our last.