One of the more frequently asked questions I get is, how do you stay so positive? I guess I should start by saying that I was not exactly the most positive thinker prior to a breast cancer diagnosis. I would always be the first one to point out the negative in a situation. The glass was definitely half empty. I am a fun upbeat person, and by no means was I walking around like a cloud of darkness, I just was quick to think about the negative things that could happen in a situation. Kind of like a plan for the worst, hope for the best mind set. I saw nothing wrong with this. I always thought this way of thinking was more self preservation that anything else. Don’t get my hopes up. Always have a plan B. This could also be the fact that I have spent the last 11 years as a military wife. No this life has not been bad, but it has been filled with moments of disappointment. The flip side of that is that I have become a very strong independent person. But eight months ago I was constantly planning for all these “what if” situations that now seem so stupid, because a pretty big “what if” situation rocked our world.
(entire outfit from Zara….clearly a loyal customer)
When I was told I had breast cancer, I didn’t cry. I didn’t break down, I just said “okay, so what’s the plan?”. I felt like I needed to be strong, and if Chris saw that in that moment I was fearless, it might be easier for him to wrap his head around what we were about to embark on. That is how I feel with the kids too. They feed off my energy, so if they see that I am scared, or stressed, or in pain, they will then feel all those same emotions. Now, don’t get me wrong I have my moments of breaking. I had a pretty good session in the shower once where I basically cussed out my left breast. Like, bitch! How dare you betray me like this? It felt good. But for the most part I choose to be positive. I don’t want to think about the negative. Who the hell wants to walk around thinking about the possibility of death? My doctor told me from the beginning that my attitude will play the biggest role in this process, and that if I allow myself to go into a dark place, I will have a very hard time coming back out.
I took that to heart. I never really understood the mentality of just choosing to be happy, like it was so easy to do. Then breast cancer entered my life. Have you ever walked into an oncology office? It is not a happy place. It is depressing! But I didn’t have to be depressing. I could be my crazy, loud, over the top self, and you know what….it might make someone smile. And it has. If I can possibly show one person who finds themselves in my situation that it is going to be okay, how great is that?
I am still me, I just currently have cancer. The best way I have dealt with it is through humor and positivity. Humor is everything to me, it is my default. It is my security blanket. No matter the situation, cracking a joke seems to be my answer. So there is a lot of jokes in this house, some incredibly morbid, but all in good fun. When people meet me, or see me out they instantly get this look of sadness on their face. They begin to talk to me in a sort of whisper, with a slow cadence to their voice. My immediate reaction is to smile, make them laugh, crack a joke, for the love of my growing eyebrows, LIGHTEN THE MOOD! Once I show them that I am happy, and that bald jokes are my specialty, their pity fades away and they too forget about the cancer and engage in a conversation. Cancer is serious, but I am not a serious person. I wake up everyday now choosing to be happy. There are some days that I don’t even think about cancer until I walk past a mirror and I’m like, oh shit I’m still bald! I have met people in my situation who are in a dark place, and I feel so bad. It hurts me more than my own situation. And yes, they might be at a more advanced stage than me, maybe their treatment isn’t working, or they just found out that they had a reoccurrence, or a combination of so many other things.
A situation that will always stick with me is this one, I was walking out of the treatment center, Chris had brought all the kids to come pick me up. We were walking to the car and a man stopped us and said “You are such a beauty, cancer looks good on you” he looked at all the kids and smiled. He said, “can we pray?” I said “of course”. And we did. He then said, “don’t ever lose that smile. I have stage four brain cancer, treatments no longer work for me and I have decided not to put my body through anymore. I am the happiest I have ever been just living everyday to the fullest, and being grateful for the life I have been given.” He then grabbed both my hands, kissed me on the cheek and said “you will beat this I can just tell, it has changed you, you can see it in your eyes”. We got in the car and Pierce said “MOM! Did you know that guy? I mean he kissed you!”.
I didn’t know him, and I haven’t seen him since. But he left an impact on me. He chooses to be happy everyday, even when he could be down right pissed. But he chooses to smile through the pain.
How we act has an impact on the people around us. It’s a ripple effect. Happiness can be contagious, and positive thinking can change your life.