A couple of weeks ago, I was rushing to get the kids off to school. I was trying to get lunches together while making breakfast and well, let’s just say, it was a little chaotic. Even though we were still in the process of trying to get into our school routine (it was only the second week of school), I was irritated when we rushed to the bus stop only to find, that it had already left.
I continued on past the empty bus stop and on to the school, a new school with a new process for drop off and lots of parents still sweetly saying their loving goodbyes to their little people … traffic was a mess. I dropped the girls off at the curb where we said our quick “goodbye” and “have a good day”. I figured that I would just be sitting in a line for a while, so I decided to park in the parking lot and wait it out whilst catching up on my overloaded emails. As I sat in my car, I noticed a big black man in the car next to me. I am sharing those details so you can envision this moment for yourself. Totally oblivious to everything outside the car, he had his music cranked up and he was waving his arms around and “gettin’ down” while his two sons were laughing and watching him. It made me smile and think, “wow, that’s like the total opposite if what just happened in my car.
I continued to sit and waited for the traffic to die down. This man walked his kids into school and upon his return to his car, I rolled down my window to tell him how I really liked the way he was jamming out with his kids this morning. He smiled and chuckled and then said something that really convicted me,
“Oh, thanks, Yeah, that’s just part of our morning routine. I just want them to start their day happy.”
And here I was irritated that I had to deal with the morning traffic at school because they were late to the bus stop. I don’t know how they felt when I dropped them off that morning, but I am pretty sure they weren’t feeling like those two little boys.
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
It’s been a while since I had a moment of inspiration and a quiet moment to write a blog post. These past several months included your typical summer vacation fun. Although, my typical summer activities were coupled with challenges on how to “get in” all the things I am supposed to be doing for my healing: juicing, supplements, exercise, rest, and the list goes on…
I found myself enjoying time with the family and our friends in Idaho, hiking, playing golf, etc., but in the back of my mind I found myself concerned that I didn’t get around to juicing that day, or that my food choices weren’t on my healing protocol. A huge wave of guilt would come over me followed by a phantom twinge in my belly. These tumors in my body have caused me to be hypersensitive to every little feeling that seems out of place.
Over the past couple of years, the journey to heal cancer has been one of lots of ups, downs, twists, and turns. I feel as though I went from began being pretty uneducated on how to help myself, to feeling pretty well infomed after learning about nutrition and what to eat/not eat. But now I am coming back to a place of humility as I realize there is more to this than I thought.
I have been steadily going through Dr. Kelly Turner’s 9 key factors of Radical Remission survivors because I consider it like a guidebook for a successful outcome. It is very inspiring to read anecdotes about people who have integrated changes into their lives and survived this diagnosis.
For such a long time I have focused on the body (what should go into it and what should stay out of it), but not as much of my energy has been on my mind. I am generally a positive and optimistic person, but somehow along the way I didn’t realize how focusing so much on the physical things I was doing, or not getting to do, started to spill into other parts of my life. I would feel stress trying to keep my body as pristine as possible, while my spirit was being pierced with negative thoughts and emotions. How appropriate that key factors 4 and 5 from her book are “Releasing Suppressed and Increasing Positive Emotions”.
“Stress weakens the immune system by changing which neuropeptides our cells release, these are chemicals released by certain cells that then latch on to other cells in your body and create an effect. The good ones are serotonin, dopamine, and relaxin; these are released when you feel relaxed and happy. Neuropeptides that have a weakening effect on the immune system, especially over an extended period of time, include cortisol, epinephrine, and adrenaline; these are known as stress hormones.”
So, all that time when I had been hearing how stress is bad for you, I never understood exactly what was happening to the body on a cellular level. The challenge is that there isn’t an easy “measure” for stress. It’s not like you can get on scale and it gives you a number. Whether you’re suppressing emotions from your past, experiencing feelings of frustration from your job, family or relationships, or feeling unfulfilled with life in general, it’s important to do a self assessment, address what’s going on, and have an outlet.
I use journaling as my primary outlet. Life as a stay-at-home mom is truly the greatest privilege in the world, but it’s not without its challenges. I wrote this months ago on a particularly stressful day… can you tell?
I hope that I am not the only one that feels like this at one point or another. In their defense, our girls are really amazing, sweet, and responsible. It’s their mother who can get a little too “naggy” sometimes, but hey, who’s perfect?
Increasing positive emotions and being happy is a big one that I am working on right now. I realize that I have allowed cancer to rob me of a lot of joy. With all the changes that I have made to my diet, along with them, came a mindset that at times puts me in a place of resentment or guilt. I am learning to change my mindset, and consider the occasional “cheats” as moments of great joy. Dr. Turner says that “positive emotions are like rocket fuel for the immune system.”
My routine PET scan is tomorrow, oddly I am not afraid. I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I did the clinical trial and if things continue to be stable or better, I graduate to annual scans! Hooray! There hasn’t been as much “scanxiety” leading up to this one because I know God will heal me. I am not perfect, but I know I am doing my best.
I was reminded recently that healing cancer is not a sprint, but a marathon and I feel like I am just hitting my stride. Thank you for reading this post and allowing me to share this journey with you.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” Psalm 94:19
Onward and Upward,
I would love to know what you do that makes you happy. Please leave a comment, send me a text, or share this with a friend if you liked this post. I love your feedback! ️