A friend sent me this question: “What would the You of today tell the ‘pre-Head On, Heart Strong’ You?
- Not everyone experiences cancer like you will. Knowing one person with cancer only means you know one person with cancer. Make no assumptions about the person in front of you and what their health or life is like. Be mindful.
- Cancer holds many parallels to your pregnancies: endless reading and research; random, passionate-yet-useless advice from people who know nothing about you; cravings for mint chocolate chip milkshakes; loving cards and gifts; and a constantly changing physical form, including wearing a slamming bikini at the waterpark.
- Those dreams of walking a labyrinth in your own yard? A moms’ getaway in DR? Meeting the very heroes who inspire you like you’ve never needed before, just to get out of bed after impossibly painful treatments and procedures? It’s all going to happen. You haven’t yet heard of Hamilton: An American Musical, but trust me, you are in for a ride.
- You will need so much help, especially when you are restricted from driving. The best ways for you to get the assistance you need is to ask: Create a calendar listing the tasks; request that people give some random dates and times they are available during a given week to help with errands; and let yourself succumb to a good cry after doing so much begging – I mean asking (and eat your feelings, perhaps in the form of a mint chocolate chip milkshake). Repeat after me: Receiving the help is also a gift to the giver.
- Picking up a tennis racquet again will feel so good. However, that stupid stubborn backhand will be right there where you left off after 16 years.
- No matter what the world tells you, you did nothing to cause your cancer. It just is. And you will die of it.
- Despite a few palate changes, you will still despise raisins and celery.
- Surprisingly, purchasing your burial plot will be one of the most empowering things you ever do. The more end-of-life preparations you make, the freer you will feel as the transition approaches.
- Your entire family will continue to be loving and supportive. Your friends will still be smarter and funnier than you. Casey will somehow find a way to bark even more than before because of all of the people coming over to help you. Your beloved husband, son and daughter will continue to illuminate, nourish, challenge and fill your life at entirely new levels, in every way. You will also cry every time you think about having to leave them.
- You will trust yourself to find your way back home.
Head On and Heart Strong!