Do you know those moments in life where they hit you so strong you will never forget it? Moments that change your direction in life? For me that moment was months before I was told I had cancer. At the time I was living in McLean, VA and I was at my doctor’s office which was close by. It was a follow-up after my annual exam and the exact words were “what did you do in the last year that stressed you out so much.”
Funny, I responded so nonchalant and said, “work”. It didn’t even take the doctor a second to come back and say “find a new job.” That was the appointment I was told I had HPV. I had no clue what that meant except I was told that so many people had it and it was probably just lying dormant in my body waiting for the breakdown. Imagine that, a dormant disease waiting for stress to weaken you just enough that it can begin battle. It is like the tale of the Trojan Horse, an army waiting, hiding for their moment to concur. I was completely ignorant to the stigma associated with HPV, well, at least until I told a family member and that was met with words so hurtful that I was speechless. The days following led to a Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP), a lot of reading, and many lectures on managing stress.
That was my moment. Now, I can’t say I don’t stress. I am human, it is part of life, but I can say I am much better at stepping back and minimizing stress. My HPV resulted in cervical cancer and luckily it was caught early. From the moment I was told I had HPV to the moment I was told I had cancer and then what I call the year of many surgeries, I took a step back and told myself to wake up and reprioritize.
Some people exercise, some people buy something like a full size mattress to relax, some change careers, some seek spiritual guidance; the list goes on, and on, and on. Me? I bake cakes. Cake decorating was a hobby that I enjoyed and I found that it was a great outlet for me. Taking classes, learning new techniques, or simply painting on fondant. It’s not a business, just a hobby. The best part of my reprioritization was that I remembered how much it meant to me to volunteer. I found a volunteer opportunity that allows me to make creative birthday cakes for children who live in shelters. Baking and volunteering; equals one happy me. How awesome is that! I get to bake while bringing smiles to lots of children who would not normally have a birthday party. I go all out. It brings me such joy to create a special cake for these children.
So what is your outlet? What things or activities help you manage your stress?
Read Tina’s Cervivor Story here.